Hadley Vlahos is charming, empathetic, and driven. She is a mom of three and a wife. She has a TikTok account with over 1.7 million followers. And she helps people die.
Vlahos is a hospice nurse, meaning she spends her days comforting and caring for people who are going through what she calls “the in-between”—the final days, weeks, or months leading up to their death. She recently turned her 10 years of experience watching—and helping—her patients cross over into a book, The In-Between: Unforgettable Encounters During Life’s Final Moments, which came out in June and spent 14 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. If you read it, you’ll quickly understand its success: Through heartwarming stories about her patients and the lessons Vlahos has learned from along the way, death begins to seem a little less like a big black hole and a little more spiritual, peaceful, and maybe even magical. So we’re thrilled to select The In-Between as our November SELF Well-Read Book Club pick.
Now, we know you might be thinking: Huh, a little glum for the cheery holiday season, dontchya think? But we chose this book now for a reason: The truth is that the holidays do bring up feelings of grief for many of us. Whether this is your first winter without a certain loved one or you’re dealing with something like anticipatory grief—perhaps someone in your life is seriously ill—all of the over-the-top cheer can end up feeling extremely painful.
Even if you aren’t acutely experiencing grief or loss, there’s something you can glean from Vlahos’s story. Death is the only true certainty in life—the one thing all of us are guaranteed to have in common—and yet there’s so little we actually know about what happens in the immediate moments before, during, and after. If you’re the type of person wary of addressing the D-word, The In-Between is an utterly healing read. It’s also a beautiful meditation on what it means to be a caregiver—so if you or someone you know identifies as such, maybe they should read it too.
We hope this month’s pick feels like a warm hug this holiday season. Buy the book below, let us know what you think by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and stay tuned for a Q&A with Vlahos on all things dying, death, and caregiving on self.com soon!