Elizabeth Edwards Tends to 'Gravely Ill' Mother

Elizabeth Edwards Tends to 'Gravely Ill' Mother
Elizabeth Edwards
Nancy Ostertag/Getty

10/10/2008 AT 06:45 PM EDT

Elizabeth Edwards has canceled all of her October speaking engagements so she can care for her "gravely ill" mother, it was announced Friday.

Detroit's Metro Parent Magazine said in a press release that among the speeches Edwards will miss is a magazine-sponsored address next week.

Her mother, Elizabeth Thweatt Anania, 85, lives in a nursing facility near Edwards's Chapel Hill, N.C., home and has been in declining health since losing her husband in March, Edwards' brother, Jay Anania, told PEOPLE in August.

On top of her father's death, her own battle with cancer and the public exposure of her 55-year-old husband John's affair, Elizabeth Edwards, 59, has this year "also been dealing with my mother's very, very difficult handling of her husband's passing after 60 years together," says Jay Anania. "It's extremely difficult what my mother's going through and that's just down the street from Elizabeth."

In an interview with Metro Parent for its October issue, Edwards says she's having a hard time finding for her young children a moral to the story of their father's infidelity.

"It's hard to feel really hopeful that it can be something that makes you stronger. It's certainly complicated by animosity that's out there," she tells the magazine. "It's also complicating for the children, in terms of allowing them to take life lessons from it, because it stirs too many levels of emotions in them."

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