Happier Endings

A Meditation on Life and Death

About The Book

We are all going to die, but some of us will die better.

As a spiritual teacher based in the Washington, D.C., area, Erica Brown has attracted a strong following among those looking for practical wisdom based on the world’s most revered and treasured religious texts. Here she shares stories and ref lections on one of life’s most essential topics: how we pack each day with love and meaning precisely because we will not live forever. Erica helps us confront our fears about death—for ourselves and our loved ones—and demonstrates how the last days of life can be among the most inspiring if we learn to leave a legacy of words and values, to forgive and apologize, and to make important decisions about our last hours.

Praised by New York Times columnist David Brooks for combining “extreme empathy with extreme tough-mindedness,” Erica Brown is a leading religious scholar with a sense of humor and a gift for storytelling. In Happier Endings, she meets people of all faiths who deal with death in enlightening ways, including a mother who arranged for her children to sprinkle her ashes on a favorite ski slope, an ex-nun who prepares people to die, a group of women who ritually wash the dead, and a family whose grandfather’s Ethical will is read by his survivors each year.

Brown leads readers on an emotional journey to prepare for and accept death, drawing on the wisdom found in many spiritual traditions. The crucial step, Brown writes, is becoming comfortable discussing death—and not just in the abstract. This kind of honesty allows for important conversations, from financial wills to last words that reinforce to those you love most what matters most to you.

After reading Happier Endings, you will have a greater understanding of what a good death can be and what a life well lived looks like.

About The Author

Photograph by Randy Sager

Dr. Erica Brown is an educator and the author of ten books, mostly on the themes of spirituality and leadership. She lives with her husband, four children and two dogs just outside of Washington, DC.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (April 2, 2013)
  • Length: 352 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781451649246

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Raves and Reviews

"Cathartic"

– The Wall Street Journal

"Brown addresses this painful subject with eloquence, honesty, and clarity; we can reckon with death, she avers, to change the lives we have now, to live fully and sincerely in the present moment, whatever we feel might happen afterward."

– Library Journal starred review

Happier Endings brings a cheery note to a dreary subject. . . . We have no choice about being mortal, but we do have some freedom, as Happier Endings reminds us, in choosing how we live with this awareness and how we make our exit.”

– Washington Post

“With sensitivity, humor, and unflinching honesty. . . [Happier Endings] is at times emotionally eviscerating but ultimately inspiring, as it expounds upon a simple truth: no one knows what tomorrow will bring.”

– Spirituality & Health

“Brown has what many people are looking for these days….conviction.”

– David Brooks, The New York Times

"Erica Brown is wise and brilliant, with a refreshing sense of humor and an enriching perspective on some of life's great challenges. Readers will find comfort and sustenance in her words."

– Daniel Silva, author of The Fallen Angel

"Erica Brown has a unique voice. A woman of faith, she speaks to everyone searching for God and greater meaning. In Happier Endings, Erica explores our attitudes toward death by helping us identify what it means to be alive. She inspires and she reminds us what is most important before we say goodbye."

– David Gregory, NBC News

"Erica Brown is the teacher we all want and the guide we all need. Happier Endings is an elegant portrait of the most powerful part of being human: how we live. From the wisdom of the Bible to the frontier of the Internet, this important book makes the persuasive case that the final years of life are among the most critical – and the most meaningful. Bravo."

– Bruce Feiler, bestselling author of Walking the Bible and The Council of Dads

Happier Endings brings a cheery note to a dreary subject. . . . We have no choice about being mortal, but we do have some freedom, as Happier Endings reminds us, in choosing how we live with this awareness and how we make our exit.”

– Washington Post

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