Beware the Grieving Warrior: A Child's Preventable Death, a Struggle for Truth, Healing, and Change


264 pages
Contains Photos, Illustrations
ISBN 1-55022-673-8
DDC 362.1'09713'52





Reviewed by Ian W. Toal

Ian W. Toal is a registered nurse in Winnipeg, Manitoba.


In 2001, John Lewis’s young daughter, Claire, had brain surgery to
remove a tumour. After developing postoperative complications that were
misdiagnosed and mistreated, she experienced cerebral edema and quickly
died. Lewis, a recently graduated nurse, set out to confront those who
made the errors that “killed her.” After a nasty battle with nearly
everyone involved with Claire’s care and the investigation following
her death, the hospital involved adopted 19 recommendations largely
drafted by Lewis in order to prevent the same scenario from happening

The book is difficult to follow and understand as it flips from the
primary story—that of a preventable death—to related issues such as
Claire’s funeral, the start of a foundation in her name, and the
authors’ experiences with other parents who have had similar

Also problematic are Lewis’s motives for the investigation. Although
he states that he wanted an unbiased investigation of Claire’s death,
and to prevent similar tragedies from happening again, the overwhelming
sense is of a man driven by rage. He wants someone to pay and seems to
go after nurses, doctors, and the hospital with that goal firmly in
mind. For example, he filed formal complaints against three nurses with
the College of Nurses of Ontario four days after his daughter’s death,
appealed the decision about one nurse, and after that review remained
unsatisfied, wanting the nurse to confirm his version of events and
admit that she had made mistakes.

Despite its flaws, Beware the Grieving Warrior is a real-life story
worth reading.


Hicock, Larry, with John Lewis., “Beware the Grieving Warrior: A Child's Preventable Death, a Struggle for Truth, Healing, and Change,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 24, 2024,