Speaking to E! News ahead of her exit, Gifford revealed that there's just one aspect of the show that she'll miss, naming the people she worked with every day as the most difficult part about leaving.
"The hardest part, the only hard part about it is that I fell in love with Hoda — I'm still in love with Hoda, I'm deeply in love with her," she said. "I will be in love with every single person I worked here with — that's the hard part. The leaving the job is not the hard part for me, it's leaving the people."
"I've been trying to pace myself, and all of a sudden, it's starting to hit us — everybody," the host added of her exit.
Kotb called her co-host's exit "a real bummer" in a separate interview with E! News, explaining that Gifford's absence will be noticeably felt.
"When [Gifford] walks in a room, she changes it, and when she steps into your life and holds your hand, she changes it," she said. "She helped and healed me...and it's hard to think that I won't get to see her in the morning. I'll miss her — I'll miss everything."
The duo explained that they had personal chemistry from the beginning that took a bit of time to blossom on air, but once it did, Gifford and Kotb became one of the most successful pairings on morning television.
"It took a while for Hoda to start trusting her natural performing instincts," Gifford explained. "She's a natural wit, she's a natural actress, she's a natural raconteur of stories. She had it when she was just being Hoda in the makeup room, but when the cameras started to roll, she went back to all of her training. She had to relearn things, and that's hard."
"It really was," Kotb added. "I was stuck in that rut because I didn't trust just being me — I thought that wasn't good enough, that you had to be better than that."
"Nobody's better than her," Gifford interjected.
The duo previously discussed their friendship while speaking to Entertainment Tonight, with Gifford calling Kotb "the best friend you can have."
"I consider Hoda one of my dearest forever," she said.
After Gifford's exit, Kotb will co-host the show's fourth hour alongside Jenna Bush Hager.
Photo Credit: Getty / Greg Doherty