"When Wade died, it was a terrible burden," she said on Larry King Live. "But it also reminded you both of the fact that you needed to grab hold of each day. You couldn't just take each day for granted."
In recent years, Elizabeth authored two best-selling books and became a champion of causes involving poverty and cancer.
But always, she said, her children were her top priority: 28-year-old Cate, 12-year-old Emma Claire and 10-year-old Jack.
"It scares me the most that there's going to be a day that, you know, is likely to come before I wanted it to come where I have to tell these sweet children goodbye," she said in a Nightline interview.
In her book "Resilience," Edwards wrote that she hopes to live long enough to see her three children graduate from school and hopefully have a grandchild.
"Eight years," she wrote. "That's all I ask for... I want to walk them to the door of the next part of their lives."
Edwards previously told ABCNews.com that her children will go to John and then, if he died, to Cate, a plan that she said was written into her will.