Kara Tippetts, the Christian blogger and author who begged fellow cancer sufferer Brittany Maynard not to take her own life but let death take its course, died Sunday from breast cancer. She was 38 years old, a pastor’s wife and mother of four.
Tippets’ plea, published in October 2014 on a popular evangelical blog, resonated across the country at the height of Maynard’s crusade for “death with dignity.” Maynard, a 29-year-old, found out on Jan. 1, 2014, that she had incurable brain cancer, and moved to Oregon to establish residency and take advantage of that state’s laws permitting physician-assisted suicide.
Maynard wrote, “I do not want to die. But I am dying. And I want to die on my own terms.”
Tippets, told last year that her own cancer had spread throughout her body and also was incurable, didn’t accept Maynard’s argument.
“You have been told a lie. A horrible lie, that your dying will not be beautiful. That the suffering will be too great. … I pray (my words) reach the multitudes that are looking at your story and believing the lie that suffering is a mistake, that dying isn’t to be braved, that choosing our death is the courageous story,” she wrote, according to a Deseret News report last year.
Last fall, Tippetts published a book about her cancer experience, “The Hardest Peace: Expecting Grace in the Midst of Life’s Hard.” Her publishers confirmed in December 2014 that Tippetts had entered hospice care and was nearing death.
In Tippetts’ last post published on March 10 at the Mundane Faithfulness blog, she expressed mixed emotions when told her illness was entering its final stages. “There is so much about this we cannot understand. I can’t understand that I’m not sleeping in my wedding bed with my guy tonight,” she wrote. “I hurt that I understand what this greater pain I’m experiencing means. I feel too young to be in this battle, but maybe I’m not in a battle at all. Maybe I’m on a journey, and the journey is more beautiful than any of us can comprehend. And if we did understand, we would hold very loosely to one another because I’m going to be with Jesus.”
Reaction began appearing as news of Tippetts’ death spread online. Rod Dreher, the American Conservative blogger who had written about Tippetts’ struggles, responded that on hearing the news, “I could not feel sad, no matter how hard I tried. I felt joyful. I — we — have had the opportunity to see a saint meet her death. Every single one of us will walk this same path, but how glorious she made it. It is impossible to believe that she is dead, only changed.”
And Religion News Service writer Cathy Lynn Grossman, who chronicled both Maynard’s suffering and Tippetts’ battle, summarized the two events, writing, “Brittany Maynard had the spotlight for autonomy and defiance. Kara Tippetts takes the spotlight now, in ‘mundane faithfulness.’ Which choice would you make?”One answer may have been provided by evangelical author Bronwyn Lea, who wrote a tribute to Tippetts for Christianity Today’s website. Lea praised Tippetts’ “gift,” which was “her gentle reminder to love well and fully, because our days are numbered. Far from pulling back from this world and those she loved in the face of death, she pressed into love more fully.”