Near the Exit

“I’d been drawn here, I realized, because I needed a tutorial in death. I didn’t need to know about the stages of grief or how to make a living will; I needed to know how to live with death.”   –from the Prologue

After her brother died unexpectedly and her mother moved into a dementia care facility, spiritual travel writer and Episcopal deacon Lori Erickson felt called to a new quest: to face death head on, with the eye of a tourist and the heart of a pastor. Blending memoir, spirituality, and travel, Near the Exit: Travels with the Not-So-Grim Reaper examines how cultures confront and have confronted death, from Egypt’s Valley of the Kings and Mayan temples, to a Colorado cremation pyre and Day of the Dead celebrations, to Maori settlements and tourist-destination graveyards.

Erickson reflects on mortality—the ways we avoid it, the ways we cope with it, and the ways life is made more precious by accepting it—in places as far away as New Zealand and as close as the nursing home up the street. Throughout her personal journey and her travels, Erickson helps us to see that one of the most life-affirming things we can do is to invite death along for the ride.

Advance Praise

“Beautiful writing about a trip we all will someday take.”  Brian D. McLaren, author/activist

Near the Exit is a delicious, funny, and quite moving read. Part actual travelogue, it’s also a spiritual exploration of death…Highly recommended for people of any or no faith practice.”—Jennifer Grant, author of Love You More and Maybe I Can Love My Neighbor Too

Near the Exit is an intriguing exploration of late life and death that will sometimes cause you to squirm or to laugh out loud. Always though, it will prompt you to think deeply about what it is to be mortal.” —Missy Buchanan, advocate, writer, and speaker for older adults

Near the Exit will help others navigate mortality as Lori Erickson meets us wherever we are and gently invites us on a guided global tour.” — Kate Sheehan Roach, Director of Content,

Near the Exit shows us it is possible to not only chart the landscape of mortality, but also to make it gloriously our own. A hopeful and inspiring book.” —Sophfronia Scott, author of This Child of Faith: Raising a Spiritual Child in a Secular World

Discussion Guide for Near the Exit


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