Elizabeth Edwards became a model of strength and inspiration to millions of Americans and around the world as she bravely battled breast cancer for six years. She died this week at the age of 61, and will be laid to rest today.
A memorial service, at the Edenton Street United Methodist Church in Raleigh, N.C., will be open to the public, but the burial will be private.
John Edwards Not Slated to Speak at Elizabeth's Funeral
How Elizabeth Edwards Prepared Kids for Her Death
Elizabeth Edwards' Final Days: New Details
The Edwards family expects as many as 1,700 people to turn out for the funeral. Among the dignitaries expected to attend, Mass. Sen. John Kerry, who ran for president with John Edwards on his ticket, and Vicky Kennedy, widow of Sen. Ted Kennedy.
Two close friends and the Edwards' 28-year-old daughter, Cate, are scheduled to speak, but Edwards' estranged husband, former senator and presidential and vice presidential candidate , reports CBS News Correspondent Elaine Quijano.
Elizabeth separated from John in January after learning he had fathered a baby with a campaign staffer, Rielle Hunter.
The church is the same one where the Edwards' son Wade is buried. He died in a car crash 14 years ago, when he was 16.
Elizabeth will be laid to rest right next to his grave - a place she visited every day for years after he passed away.
Glenn Bergenfield has struggled to write the eulogy he will deliver today for Edwards.
"It's been painful," he told CBS News. "The challenge of this is to try to put into words some sense of the astonishing courage she had."
Bergenfield met Edwards when the two were in law school. They remained friends through the years, and became even closer after Wade's death.
"Among the reasons she (didn't) fear death," Bergenfield says, " … is that she feels that she has at least the chance to be reunited with her son."
Of John Edwards, Bergenfield says, "I don't know if the people who are angry at him around the country want to believe this, but I think he's grieving. I think he's grieving horribly. … He's lost her, too."
In her last television interview, on "The Nate Berkus Show" in September, Elizabeth Edwards seemed to have come to terms with her life's struggles. "Right now," she said, "I feel more at peace than I have in a really long time."
Edwards leaves behind two young children, Emma Claire, 12 and Jack, 10.
Copyright 2010 CBS. All rights reserved.