Near the Exit

Release Date: August 13, 2019

“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.


“Is it possible to become comfortable with the thought of one’s own death? Lori Erickson sets out on a fantastic voyage to explore the answer and, best of all, we get to go with her. From the depths of Egypt’s Great Pyramids to the wide-open spiritual expanse that is Crestone, Colorado, 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

“Informative, insightful and thoroughly entertaining, Near the Exit is a travelogue of human mortality.” —Ira Byock, MD, author of Dying Well and The Best Care Possible

“Near the Exit is a delicious, funny, and quite moving read. Part actual travelogue, it’s also a spiritual exploration of death. The writing is stellar, the reflections on the unexpected nature of grief, and the way Lori Erickson plumbs ‘seeming coincidence’ grabbed my attention and didn’t let it go. Highly recommend for people of any or no faith practice.” —Jennifer Grant, author of Love You More and Maybe I Can Love My Neighbor Too

Discussion Guide for Near the Exit

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