Rachel Held Evans, a very popular Christian author whose interesting work went against traditional conservative beliefs, passed away early Saturday morning after a lengthy hospitalization.
She was 37 years old.
The tragic news was shared and confirmed by husband Dan, who told fans on his wife's website that Rachel was “slowly weaned from” her medically induced coma after experiencing massive brain swelling.
This condition proved, ultimately, to be "not survivable.”
“This entire experience is surreal. I keep hoping it’s a nightmare from which I’ll awake. I feel like I’m telling someone else’s story,” Dan wrote, prior to thanking his Rachel's friends, family members and followers for their continued prayers and support:
“I cannot express how much the support means to me and our kids.
"To everyone who has prayed, called, texted, driven, flown, given of themselves physically and financially to help ease this burden: Thank you.
"We are privileged. Rachel’s presence in this world was a gift to us all and her work will long survive her."
A Dayton, Tennesee native, Rachel penned such best-selling books as “Searching for Sunday” and “Faith Unraveled."
Other well-known works included ''A Year of Biblical Womanhood" and “Inspired," as her website said Evans wrote about "faith, doubt and life in the Bible Belt."
She often challenged the evangelical community by addressing sexism and racism and "championing voices of people who have been marginalized in the church," including the LGBTQ community, said Sarah Bessey, a writer and friend of Rachel's.
This turned the author into a hero to many readers and a polarizing presence in the religious community to her critics.
Evans was in the hospital for about three weeks prior to her passing.
On April 14, she announced on Twitter that she was in the hospital “with a flu + UTI combo” and had also contracted a “severe allergic reaction to the antibiotics” she had been given.
At the time, the wroter lamented that she wouldn’t be able to watch the Game of Thrones final season premiere live that evening.
Several days later, on April 19, it was clear that something was seriously wrong.
This is when Dan delivered his first update on his wife’s health, writing that while she was receiving treatment for an infection, Rachel started “exhibiting unexpected symptoms,” which included “constant seizures.”
Evans made headlines when she explained in a blog post that she left the evangelical church in 2014 to focus on building a new church community that would accept women as ministers, gay Christians and “those who refuse to choose between their intellectual integrity and their faith.”
This was considered a novel concept at the time.
He still is, in the eyes of many.
Evans also served on President Barack Obama's Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.
She spoke at churches, conferences and universities around the country.
On April 28, two days after Evans had been transported to another facility, her husband updated fans once again.
He said that doctors were working to “find a combination of medicines” that would allow her to be slowly “weaned from the coma medication.”
Two days after this, Dan shared that physicians had begun the process of bringing Evans out of her coma...
... and that was the last we heard from him, until he announced that his wife had died.
Evans is survived by her husband, as well as their two young children: a three-year son and a daughter, who will turn 1 later this month.
She was surrounded by her loved ones when she passed away.
May Rachel Held Evans rest in peace.