Aretha Franklin‘s life ended with the legendary singer comforted by loved ones, her family and friends say.
Franklin’s nephew Vaughn Franklin told CNN she was “surrounded by a lot of love” as her life slipped away.
“The family was there,” he said. “Just seeing her transition from where she was to where she was when I last saw her this past week was just breathtaking.”
“You can’t put words on it,” he added. “It just broke your heart.”
Franklin, 76, died Thursday from advanced pancreatic cancer.
Her family thanked friends and fans for their support as Franklin received hospice care.
“We have been deeply touched by the incredible outpouring of love and support we have received from close friends, supporters and fans all around the world,” the family said in a statement after her death. “Thank you for your compassion and prayers. We have felt your love for Aretha and it brings us comfort to know that her legacy will live on. As we grieve, we ask that you respect our privacy during this difficult time.”
In the days leading up to her death, Franklin received visits from high-profile friends including the Rev. Jesse Jackson and singer Stevie Wonder.
Franklin’s ex-husband, actor Glynn Turman, visited Franklin along with Wonder and told People he held “her frail, frail arm.”
“I was able to feel her pulse, which was strong,” he said. “So she was fighting ’til the very end.”
The woman he was married to from 1978 to 1984 had always been a warrior and strong, Turman said.
“Her pulse told me that she was not in surrender mode,” he said. “She was going to fight it ’til the end.”
Turman said the pair had remained friends after their divorce, often talking on the phone.
He said he would remember her humor and stubbornness.
“She just didn’t take tea for the fever, as the old folks would say,” Turman said. “She was stubborn and hard to persuade. When she got her mind made up on something, you might as well pretty much forget trying to change it.”
Turman said Franklin was not able to speak during his visit, but she was aware that he and Wonder were there.
“And we were able to feed off of that recognition, feed off of the moment of both sort of realizing that time was extremely precious at this time,” he said. “So it was a moment full of closure.”