Elizabeth Edwards: Victorian Struggles, Modern Triumphs

Why Elizabeth Edwards’ death hits us so hard

By Susan Toepfer
Photograph: Photo by Janet Mayer / PR Photos

After baring her pain in the 2009 book Resilience, Elizabeth, finally aware of how thoroughly she had been duped, filed for divorce. But instead of opting for the relief of stepping out of the spotlight, she continued working to publicize her message of optimism and social change, this time through the decidedly non-Victorian channel of social media. As late as Monday, December 6, 2010, the day before she died, Elizabeth posted a message on her Facebook page: “I have been sustained throughout my life by three saving graces—my family, my friends, and a faith in the power of resilience and hope.”

 

Her family—including the disgraced father of her children—was with her at the end, in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. On December 7, news organizations announced Edwards’ death. But her final message to her larger family, the many who admired her, grieved for her and cheered her on, had appeared hours earlier, on her Facebook wall: “Elizabeth Edwards has no more posts.”

 

Elizabeth Edwards died young. She should have had another 30 years to carry on her fight for social justice, with all her trademark fire. Now she is gone. But her spirit—and her message—lives on.

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