Doctor who helped bring Lockerbie bombers to justice knows what relatives want to hear.
Ten days after the shooting down of MH17, Anthony Maslin and wife Rin Norris are living a "hell beyond hell". Their three young children were on the plane. So was Anthony's dad, Nick.
No one can comprehend and no words adequately reflect their suffering.
The sudden explosive violence at 33,000ft, the minutes crashing to earth, the days of inhumanity at the hands of Kalashnikov-wielding thugs and goons.
Not in our worst nightmares would we dare conjure the cold and senseless reality now torturing thousands of family members and loved ones across the globe.
"Our pain is intense and relentless," say the shattered Australian couple. "Our babies are not here with us -- we need to live with this act of horror, every day and every moment for the rest of our lives."
Jim Swire will relate more than most to that numbing prediction.
On the night of December 21, 1988, the local GP was making a Christmas calendar at his home in southern England when a bomb exploded on a plane above the small Scottish town of Lockerbie.
Swire's 23-year-old daughter Flora, a research fellow in neurology at Cambridge University, was one of 259 people on board Pan Am Flight 103. Eleven people on the ground also perished as the wreckage smashed into their homes.
Ten years later I spent an afternoon with the softly-spoken pacifist who, in the UK, had become the public face of the campaign to bring the bombers to justice.
"At first none of us could really believe Flora was gone," Swire said. "Even after I saw her body I would see a pretty girl in the street with a jaunty step and dark hair. I used to go round in front of her to see her face because I thought, 'maybe there has been a terrible mistake'. It's amazing how your mind works at times like that."
That terrible night Swire's life as a shy country doctor ended, and another as an obsessive public fighter for the truth began. It took him to a bunker in Tripoli to meet the international pariah Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, and cost him a fortune in lost earnings and pension rights.
"The thing for me about this campaigning is that it is just a way of coping," he told me. "I couldn't just sit on my hands and do nothing. The whole thing was so despicable, and so avoidable. It was a diabolical crime, such a blot on the history of human nature, people knowingly sending innocent people to their deaths in such an appalling manner."
A quarter of a century after Lockerbie, the visceral reaction to the violent ending of lives on a plane remains a constant.
Thirty-seven of the MH17 victims called Australia home. Any Australian who has visited Europe is keenly aware they too have flown along the route where MH17 was blasted out of the sky.
From public memorial services to the welled-up eyes of a TV newsreader, people are trying -- and failing -- to make sense of the incomprehensible.
Swire himself entered the fray to soothe families' worst fears. "The first question for many relatives of the victims of MH17, as for us after Lockerbie, will be whether their loved ones suffered," he wrote last week.
Sudden decompression in a plane at cruising altitude causes almost instantaneous loss of consciousness. The suspected missile would have packed around 140 times more explosive than the Lockerbie bomb.
"It seems impossible therefore that anyone aboard could have remained aware to suffer in the aftermath," he said.
At 77, Swire continues to fight for answers over Flight 103. A request for a third appeal against the conviction of Libyan agents has been lodged by UK families, who point instead to Iranian involvement.
More than anyone, perhaps, Swire understands that the relatives and their suffering lie at the heart of these disasters. Truth and justice is paramount, as is providing support for families who grieve and cope in different ways.
Almost 300 lives lost. Many more destroyed. And just as the memory of Lockerbie still cuts deep in many Scots, the Australian psyche is destined to be scarred by another heinous act half a world away.