"To say that she prepared them for her death, I don't think that is correct," said friend Jennifer Palmieri. "What she wanted to do was prepare them to live a good life."
Edwards was determined that her last days with her children be joyful.
"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," said Palmieri. "It was not a sad place if you can imagine that. It was a very warm and nurturing home."
Elizabeth Edwards knew she would only have a few years with her young children, as she told Katie Couric in 2007, right after Edwards learned her cancer had returned.
"I've often said that the most important thing you can give your children are wings - cause you're not always going to be able to bring food to the nest," Edwards told Couric. "Sometimes they're going to have to be able to fly by themselves."
Although a successful lawyer in her own right, Edwards built her life around her children. When her 16-year-old son, Wade, died in a car accident, both she and John quit practicing law - and turned to politics and public service.
And for the sake of her children, Edwards put aside her anger at her husband's well-known infidelity - as she told Nate Berkus in her lat televised interview:
"I see the father of my children, and that's very important to me," Edwards told Berkus. "Particularly since I have a terminal disease, this is the person who at some point will take over the primary parenting, and it's important to me that he heals, if he needs to."
Elizabeth Edwards' funeral will take place Saturday here at the family church in Raleigh. She will be buried at a cemetery next to her son, Wade.