In Memory of Lyren Lenore Grate

“We die. That may be the meaning of life. But we do language. That may be the measure of our lives” 

(Toni Morrison).

Lyren Lenore Grate was a writer. She was a daughter, sister, aunt, granddaughter, friend, cat mom, niece, cousin, and social justice advocate. 

We all have our stories. Despite being diagnosed in 2004 at the age of fourteen with Neurofibromatosis Type II (NF2), a progressive neurological condition, Lyren graduated magna cum laude with a BA in English from UCA. She interned at the Oxford American, tutored at the UCA Writing Center, and was a Content Writer at Inuvo.   

But there is more to Lyren’s story than these outward accomplishments: her narrative is not a linear one. As the disease took its course, her life became less about accomplishments and doing and more about simply being present and enjoying each moment. Lyren will always exist as long as love exists.

As one of her friends said, sometimes you are lucky enough to meet someone who changes your world for the better. Throughout her journey Lyren did just that. She never complained. She stayed strong and encouraged others. She laughed often and was a keen observer of life. She maintained hope and joy until her final breath on October 20, 2019.  It was her mother’s privilege to care for her and to be her best friend.

“People with disabilities are indeed like the words of a poem. Although they might not provide or produce clothing or shelter or food, they nonetheless convey beauty and meaning, truth and transcendence. They teach us what it means to be human” (Amy Julia Becker).

Lyren advocated for a cure for NF2 and participated in clinical trials to advance NF2 research. Donations may be made to NF2 BioSolutions in her memory ( and the CLAWS chapter of ARKANPAWS (

The family will hold a private internment service in Northwest Arkansas. A celebration of life open to all will take place in the spring.

About NF2 BioSolutions:

NF2 BioSolutions, is a 100% volunteer-run, by NF2 parents and patients like Lyren touched by NF2. We are a nonprofit organization that effects change through patient advocacy by bringing the smartest minds in various research fields together to find an NF2 treatment or cure for the NF2 brain and spine tumors. Thanks to your donations two leading labs in gene therapy started to focus on NF2 and a third one is being accelerated.


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    Donor Wall18

    UCA School of Communication | $207.35

    Jon and Leslie Bush | $103.83

    Matt | $103.83

    In memory of my brave and wonderful niece you are missed but not forgotten- uncle Matt

    T | $259.11

    To a beautiful and special soul, safe and peaceful journey. You left a meaningful and positive mark upon this world.

    Molly Bombonato | $150

    With love - the MBA class of 2021

    Amy Baldwin | $250

    Rosemary Anderson | $26.19

    With deepest sympathy to the whole family from Rosemary and Zoë

    Neurofibromatosis Michigan | $52.07

    In memory of an amazing young woman whose life inspires us all to be better.

    Lucas | $103.83

    In memory of Lyren. -Lucas & Keturah

    Steve Hull | $52.07

    Steven Bell

    With our sympathies for Rhodora and the family. Department of World Languages. University of Arkansas.

    Kelsey Stewart

    My dear friend Lyren. I will miss your smile and your deeply caring and compassionate friendship. I wish we had more time with you but I cherish every moment we did have together.Your friendship has forever shaped me in the best possible way. Love you always

    Danielle Wallis | $26.19

    Judie | $52.07

    Pauline Panza | $50

    Michelle Eichhorst

    Lyren, I can't put into words what your friendship meant to me. Even when we were kids, you willingness to be a thought partner helped me understand the world around me. You taught me to be a better person and shone a light where we needed it most. Your kindness, courage, and passion will continue to inspire all those who knew you. You are a constant in my life; I carry you in my heart.

    Lauren DeCarvalho | $150

    While your time here was too short, the impact you had on others will last for decades to come. Thank you for being you, Lyren.

    Kathryn Newing | $25