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My Father’s Wake by Kevin Toolis
  1. Duncan J McLauchlan1,2
  1. 1 Department of Neurology, University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff, UK
  2. 2 Division of Psychological Medicine and Clinical Neurosciences, Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Duncan J McLauchlan, Department of Neurology, University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff CF14 2FJ, UK; dm9631{at}

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This book, part biography part autobiography, relates the author’s encounters with death. He describes his father’s life, personality and ultimate end; his brother’s death; and innumerable violent deaths witnessed through his job as a reporter in conflict zones the world over. Nick Hornby once wondered whether his own obsessions with particular songs were an attempt to ‘solve’ them. The group felt that this book attempts to ‘solve’ the author’s misery over his brother’s early death.

Toolis describes his own experiences in the ‘Chest ward’, where death was not mentioned by name, or even alluded to. Most patients died from malignancy but their beds were vacated and tidied with nary an explanation for other patients.

The author finally gained an inkling into his own career choice; following colleagues’ deaths, and close encounters with his own mortality, he realised he wanted to allay his own ‘unrequited grief’(personal communication, TAT Hughes) over his brother’s death. …

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  • Contributors DMcL wrote the article following Cardiff neurology book club.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement No additional data are available.