Kathie Lee Gifford is opening up about her big move to Nashville.
On Thursday, the former co-host, 66, stopped by the Today show to talk about the “crippling” loneliness she experienced while still living in the Greenwich, Connecticut, home she shared with late husband Frank Gifford.
“This home of mine in Connecticut, where Frank and I raised our beautiful children and we had so many happy years, when I was living there alone,” she said, “dogs can only do so much for you, and I love my dogs.”
She continued: “But it went from being the most teeming, thrilling, joyful — all the dog sounds, the kid sounds, the smoke in the grill and, you know, it just was life.”
“It came to feel like a mortuary with me just there alone,” she said. “And I said I need to make a new life for myself or this one’s going to kill me.”
Kathie was the one who found Frank collapsed and unresponsive on the floor in their Connecticut home, as she detailed in her 2017 song “He Saw Jesus.”
In November, Kathie elaborated on her decision to move to Franklin, Tennessee, just outside of Nashville, saying that once her children Cody, 29, and Cassidy, 26, moved out and she lost the love of her life, their old home stopped feeling like a safe haven.
“I moved here because I was dying of loneliness,” she told USA Today. “… Here’s the bad news — I’m a widow, an orphan, and an empty nester. The good news is, I have the freedom of a widow, an orphan and an empty nester.”
Kathie moved in 2019 after retiring from Today on April 5 after 11 years on the show.
Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE’s free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories
During an appearance on Today last fall, Kathie said she loves the relaxed attitude of the south.
“There’s a different culture down there. It’s a culture of kindness in Nashville,” she said. “They are authentically kind. They are joyful; they have so much fun.”
Since moving to Nashville, Kathie has focused on producing religious movies and music.
“I’ve got all the time to spend my days writing,” she said. “I’m having the life I could’ve only ever dreamed of.”