Our columnist Ruth Wishart reflects on the tragic fire at Cameron House this week in which two people died.

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When fire broke out at Cameron House this week, when a Helensburgh B&B was deliberately destroyed in a blaze, when a train crashed on to a motorway in North West America, when cars were involved in a fatal pile up at a Birmingham underpass, the shocked reactions of eyewitnesses and commentators had a common theme – how awful to suffer tragedy so near to Christmas.

And like all clichés, it’s born of truth. When people are bereaved they try, and usually fail, not to continue marking the anniversary of their loss.

Yet, as the years pass, so too does the significance of the date diminish, though never disappear.

That’s not possible when the date itself has universal recognition.

A friend of mine once phoned on Christmas morning to say her husband had suddenly died in the early hours.

One of her sons, doubtless thinking not to prolong her agony, persuaded the undertaker to hold his funeral service on Hogmanay.

Thus, for ever after, two of the most high profile celebratory dates are conflated with her being widowed.

Something similar will be happening to those who went to one of Scotland’s best known hotels – probably as a treat, a personal or family celebration – two of whom perished.

There’s no painless death for those who are left, but somehow the suddenness, manner, and date of the Cameron House tragedy truly does make it even worse.