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Rachel Held Evans was a progressive Christian writer and humorist who died at the age of 37 on May 4. Evans was hospitalized in April with the flu and had been in a coma for a time.
Evans is survived by her husband, Dan Evans, and their two children. Evans passed away in a hospital in her home city of Nashville, Tennessee. Evans had grown up in Birmingham, Alabama, and Dayton, Tennessee. She was a graduate of Rhea County High School and Bryan College, where her father worked as an administrator.
Evans married her husband in 2003, the same year she graduated from college. The couple first lived in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where she worked as an intern for the city’s newspaper. Evans later went on to write for the Herald-News in Dayton, Tennessee. In 2007, Evans was awarded the “Best Personal Humor Column” from the Tennessee Press Association. It was at this time that Evans first began blogging.
Evans published her first book in 2010, “Evolving in Monkey Town,” and would go on to write four other books during her life. From there, Evans gained national publicity, writing a column for the Washington Post and appearing on the “Today” show on NBC.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Evans’ Husband Dan Evans Described His Wife’s Passing as ‘Surreal’ & ‘a Nightmare’
Facebook/Rachel Held EvansEvans pictured with her husband, Dan, in October 2013.
Dan Evans had earlier said that his wife had been placed in a medically induced coma after she had been experiencing seizures. Dan wrote in a blog post that his wife died on the morning of May 4, two days after doctors discovered swelling on her brain. He said in the post, “The team at the hospital discovered extensive swelling of her brain and took emergency action to stabilize her. The team worked until Friday afternoon to the best of their ability to save her. This swelling event caused severe damage and ultimately was not survivable.”
Dan described his wife’s death as being “surreal.” He added, “I keep hoping it’s a nightmare from which I’ll awake. I feel like I’m telling someone else’s story.” During her final days, Dan Evans said that his wife never made it back to an alert state.
2. One Friend Said That Evans Was Surrounded by Friends & Family as She Passed
A post shared by Rachel Held Evans (@rachelheldevans) on Jun 10, 2018 at 5:51pm PDT
Evans’ friend and fellow writer, Sarah Beesey, wrote in a tweet on May 4 that Evans was surrounded by friends and family as she passed. While Revi. Nadia Bolz-Weber said she and others had offered “our touch and tears and song. I anointed her with oil.”
3. When Evans Was Initially Hospitalized, She Joked that She Was Worried About Missing ‘Game of Thrones’
A post shared by Rachel Held Evans (@rachelheldevans) on Jun 11, 2015 at 6:48am PDT
Evans tweeted on April 14 that she was being treated in a hospital due to “flu + UTI combo and a severe allergic reaction” to antibiotics.” At the time, Evans joked that she was more worried about missing “Game of Thrones.” On her Twitter bio, Evans wrote of herself, “Doubt-filled believer, author of Inspired, Searching for Sunday, A Year of Biblical Womanhood, Faith Unraveled.” While on her Instagram bio, Evans demonstrated her humor, writing, “Author with minimal photography skills.”
4. Evans Final Blog Post Saw Her Write-in Part, ‘Remember That You Are Dust & to Dust You Will Return’
A post shared by Rachel Held Evans (@rachelheldevans) on Oct 23, 2015 at 4:56pm PDT
Evans last blog post was published on her website on March 6. It was titled, “Lent for the Lamenting.” Evans wrote of the challenges within Christian religions right now, such as ongoing Catholic child abuse allegations. The final lines of that post seem especially poignant on the day of Evans’ death. The talented writer said, “You know this truth deep in your bones: “Remember that you are dust and to dust you will return. Death is a part of life. My prayer for you this season is that you make time to celebrate that reality, and to grieve that reality and that you will know you are not alone.”
5. Evans Is Being Mourned & Celebrated Online
Dan told Slate “She put others before herself. She shared her platform. She always remembered how others had helped her. She enjoyed seeing other people in contexts where they thrived. She didn’t hold grudges, would forget as well as forgive. She had little time for pettiness and a big heart for people. And these are all things I wish I had told her more while I still had the privilege to keep her company.”
Here are some of the most poignant tributes to Evans that have been posted on Twitter: