SOCIAL SCIENCES

Near the Exit: Travels with the Not-So-Grim Reaper

Westminster John Knox. Aug. 2019. 180p. photos. notes. ISBN 9780664265670. pap. $17. TRAV
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Episcopal deacon and travel writer (Holy Rover) Erickson decided to explore past and current perspectives about death near and far because of her own experiences facing and handling the losses of beloved family members and dear friends. Her travel stories about some beliefs and practices observed in Chicago (Day of the Dead festivities); Egypt (Book of the Dead); New Zealand (honoring ancestors); Mexico (Mayan and Aztec traditions); Crestone, CO (cremation ground); Milwaukee (Forest Home Cemetery); Rome and Assisi, Italy (Necropolis and Basilica, among other sites); and home in Iowa City, IA (Sacred Stone Circle at Harvest Preserve), are interwoven beautifully with childhood memories in Iowa and heartbreaking experiences visiting her mother in a nursing home. Readers who have faced loss and wondered about preparing for their own deaths will appreciate the insights into how other cultures prepare for and celebrate death. The writing is fluid, deeply personal, and sometimes touching. This work also includes a two-page list of discussion questions related to the contents.
VERDICT This book’s journey to spiritual places near and far is worth taking

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