Dying Death And After

The aftermath of disaster

BMJ 1995; 311 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.311.7021.1688 (Published 23 December 1995) Cite this as: BMJ 1995;311:1688
  1. Jane Swirea
  1. aCaspidge House, Pikes Pool Lane, Bromsgrove, Worcestershire B60 1LH

    “Sunt lacrimae rerum et mentem mortalia tangunt” (Virgil) [There are tears shed for things, and mortality touches the heart.]

    Nearly seven years ago Flora, our beautiful and first born daughter, was killed on a PanAm plane over Lockerbie in Scotland by a terrorist bomb. Flora was a rare spirit with an irrepressible sense of humour and that special vibrant energy which always characterises the truly great. And really great I think she would have become if only she had been allowed to live. She did have all the ingredients—a good intelligence, boundless energy, a delightful sense of humour, and most important of all a warm and loving heart but with her feet firmly planted on the ground. Her scientific gifts were already more than promise. She had always gained outstanding marks in both physics and maths, and in medicine she felt that she could combine her love and respect for humanity with the intellectual gifts that she had been given. In her few years as an adult—she was on the eve of only her 24th birthday when she was killed—she gained a first class degree in medical sciences at Nottingham Medical School and had accepted an invitation to do a PhD on evoked potentials at the Institute of Neurology in Queen Square, London. She was writing up her research into patients infected with HIV and patients with Alzheimer's disease at the time of her death.

    There is a need for the Floras of this world. We, her family, needed her too. That she would become the victim of an unspeakably cruel act of human wickedness was undreamt of in our worst, most hellish imaginings. When the dreadful news of the plane crash first came through on the television with those pictures of flames at the petrol station there came into …

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