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Briefly Perfectly Human: Making an Authentic Life by Getting Real About the End

$28.99

A deeply transformative memoir that reframes how we think about death and how it can help us lead better, more fulfilling and authentic lives, from America’s most visible death doula.

"A truly unique, inspiring perspective on the time we have, what we do with it, and how we let go of this world.... There is no one I'd trust more to guide me through an understanding of death, and how it informs life." — Jodi Picoult, New York Times bestselling author of Mad Honey and The Book of Two Ways

"Briefly Perfectly Human is a beautiful, raw, light-bringing experience. Alua's voice is shimmering, singular, and pulses with humor, vulnerability, insight, and refreshing candor.... Be prepared for it to grab you, hold you tight, and raise the roof on the power of human connection." — Tembi Locke, author of From Scratch: A Memoir of Love, Sicily, and Finding Home

For her clients and everyone who has been inspired by her humanity, Alua Arthur is a friend at the end of the world. As our country’s leading death doula, she’s spreading a transformative message: thinking about your death—whether imminent or not—will breathe wild, new potential into your life.

Warm, generous, and funny AF, Alua supports and helps manage end-of-life care on many levels. The business matters, medical directives, memorial planning; but also honoring the quiet moments, when monitors are beeping and loved ones have stepped out to get some air—or maybe not shown up at all—and her clients become deeply contemplative and want to talk. Aching, unfinished business often emerges. Alua has been present for thousands of these sacred moments—when regrets, fears, secret joys, hidden affairs, and dim realities are finally said aloud. When this happens, Alua focuses her attention at the pulsing center of her clients’ anguish and creates space for them, and sometimes their loved ones, to find peace.

This has had a profound effect on Alua, who was already no stranger to death’s periphery. Her family fled a murderous coup d’état in Ghana in the 1980s. She has suffered major, debilitating depressions. And her dear friend and brother-in-law died of lymphoma. Advocating for him in his final months is what led Alua to her life’s calling. She knows firsthand the power of bearing witness and telling the truth about life’s painful complexities, because they do not disappear when you look the other way. They wait for you.

Briefly Perfectly Human is a life-changing, soul-gathering debut, by a writer whose empathy, tenderness, and wisdom shimmers on the page. Alua Arthur combines intimate storytelling with a passionate appeal for loving, courageous end-of-life care—what she calls “death embrace.” Hers is a powerful testament to getting in touch with something deeper in our lives, by embracing the fact of our own mortality. “Hold that truth in your mind,” Alua says, “and wondrous things will begin to grow around it.”