Celine Dion & Kathie Lee Gifford Reflect on the Deaths of Their Husbands: "I Found the Best Man in the World Like You Did"

The singer and television show co-host suffered the deaths of their spouses between 2015 and 2016

By Samantha Schnurr Jul 22, 2016 4:50 PMTags

A new day has come for Celine Dion and Kathie Lee Gifford

The Grammy-winning songstress and morning show host have shared a common tragedy recently—the loss of their husbands. Kathie's longtime husband Frank Gifford unexpectedly died of natural causes in August 2015 a week before his 85th birthday while Celine's lifetime partner, husband René Angélil, passed away in January after a three-year battle with throat cancer. The famous women, who both managed their personal losses while in the spotlight, sought solace in each other Friday when they co-hosted the fourth hour of Today. 

"You gave strength to everybody. Because you're strong, we can all be strong. Everybody is waiting to see how you're doing, you know? To give them permission to be okay," Gifford told Dion, though she was speaking from personal experience.

"I have to tell you I feel very strong," Celine responded. "I lost the man of my life, but I cannot live thinking this way. I have to say I found the best man in the world like you did for yourself and we were both extremely lucky." A tearful Kathie Lee added, "We're all going up someday."

Kathie Lee Gifford Remembers Husband Frank Gifford as the Love of Her Life, Talks About Moving on After His Death
Franck Danielson/TB/WireImage.com

While death is a difficult concept for children to grasp, Dion's three sons, René-Charles and twins Nelson and Eddy, are coping with their father's sudden absence by the example their strong mother continues to set months later. 

"They sense that mom is OK. They know what's going on. They know that dad is not coming back," she said during an interview on Today. "My kids are fine, so I'm fine."

However, upon René's passing, the "Power of Love" singer realized there would be greater responsibility on her shoulders as a single parent—a weight she embraced wholeheartedly.

"When he passed, I said to myself, 'If I thought last week or a year ago that I was a mother, I was wrong because today is the day and I'm going to have to prepare my children to let them know that today that they will have to live with their dad in a different way," she said on the morning program. 

Though she accepted her new role immediately, the star refused to let her teenage son feel burdened by his untimely loss. 

"I said to him, 'You will never have the responsibility of becoming the man of the house. This is your life. You're not your dad. You're not here to replace no one," Celine told Kathie Lee of 15-year-old René-Charles. "You deserve to have your happiness. Your dad is with you."

Celine Dion Candidly Revisits René Angélil's Final Days: "We Were Living in Hope, Knowing That There's No Hope"
Kevin Winter/Getty Images

René-Charles will need his father to watch over him as he prepares for a major teenage milestone—driving. "Permits for driving [are] coming soon," Celine told E! News. "It scares me. Every mother would be so scared, I'm pretty sure." 

As she shares most parents' concern, it's easy to forget the 48-year-old is an international star still headlining her Las Vegas show after 15 years, working on a new French album, Encore un soir, and taking time to grace Today's famous plaza for a concert with an overwhelming number of her most dedicated fans. 

"This is a phenomenal crowd," Plaza Producer Alex Ficquette told E! News. "There are people that we didn't let in. There are still blocks and blocks...there are people poured over on the side streets still sticking around in hopes of hearing her voice."

Watch: Celine Dion Talks Coping With Loss of Husband Rene Angelil

The trip to the Big Apple was well worth it as Dion captivated the crowd with renditions of her classics like "Because You Loved Me" and "A New Day Has Come," as well as an emotional take on "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" and even a bit of Adele's "Hello." After decades as one of America's best-selling vocalists, Dion keeps coming back for her followers. 

"It's probably the only reason why I still do it. I don't have to do it," she told E! News. "If I'm here, it's because...I'm enjoying my singing with the fans tremendously, probably even better lately than ever before."

(E! and NBC are both part of the NBCUniversal family.)

Watch: Celine Dion Emotional Over Billboard Awards Performancev
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