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BMJ 1997; 315 doi: (Published 02 August 1997) Cite this as: BMJ 1997;315:0

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Death and drugs Death and drugs, both of them at the heart of medicine, dominate this week's journal. Malcolm Williams reflects on the deaths of a younger brother, an 8 year old nephew, and an uncle and describes how, at age 5, he helped his grandmother to lay out a neighbour (p 317). “You need never fear the dead, my darling,” she told him. Now he writes: “Contemplating loss as an issue in my life has made me relinquish some of my fears. … It brings me into the present.”

Williams shares some of his thinking with Michel de Montaigne, the 16th century French writer, whose essay …

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