Friends Recall Elizabeth Edwards' Last Days

Those close to Sen. John Edwards' estranged wife spent her final weeks in a "nurturing environment" surrounded by her family

Elizabeth Edwards faced her final days with grace and strength, according to friends who were by her side. Edwards, 61, died on Tuesday after six years of living with terminal breast cancer. She spent her last few weeks at home, embracing her remaining time with her three children.

"She was able to have you know, normal, "Good night, mom," give them a kiss and go to school, and so it was a very nurturing and warm environment," friend Jennifer Palmieri told CBS News. "It was not a sad place if you can imagine that. It was a very warm and nurturing home."

Edwards' children -- Jack, 10, Emma Claire, 12, and Cate, 28 -- knew that she was close to the end of her life. But Palmieri says that Edwards spent her last weeks teaching them to go on without her.

"To say that she prepared them for her death, I don't think that is correct," says Palmieri. "What she wanted to do was prepare them to live a good life."

Another friend tells People that Elizabeth didn't suffer in her last weeks.

"She's at peace," says the friend, who saw her the day she died. "After so much pain the past several years, it was an easy passing, and she deserved that."

Although she faced her disease bravely, the pain of the chemotherapy and the drugs had started to become unbearable for Edwards. She discontinued treatments recently in order to spend her final days in her own home, without dealing with the exhaustion and pain of treatments. She was surrounded by loved ones when she died, including estranged husband John Edwards.

Elizabeth Edwards' funeral service will be held on Saturday in Raleigh, N.C., and will be open to the public. She will be buried beside her son Wade, who died in a car accident in 1996 at age 16. Instead of flowers, mourners are urged to make donations to the Wade Edwards Foundation, and to leave remembrances at the memorial website Elizabeth-Edwards.Org.

Were you impressed by Elizabeth Edwards' strength and resilience? Chime in below!

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