Like so many others, I was shocked and saddened today to hear that Conservative leader David Cameron's son Ivan had died at the age of six.
As the father of a seven month old son, I found the news especially poignant, although you hardly needed to be a parent to identify with the Camerons' tragic loss.
By a strange coincidence, The Guardian chose today to profile David Cameron in its G2 supplement, which included the familiar photo of David and Samantha Cameron with their children. David and Ivan are seen looking lovingly at each other. The shot took on a painful poignancy today.
It's extraordinary that Britain's prime minister and opposition leader have both lost children. It shows that power and money count for little in life's lottery. If any good is to come out of such sadness, it is that Brown and Cameron are better able to bring their own terrible experiences to help others. It's no coincidence that both are strong supporters of the NHS.
The other lesson is that life is far more important than politics. We can only begin to imagine how Gordon Brown and David Cameron coped with the pressures of political life in the light of what they were facing in their family lives. Politicians are human beings. They share all our failings and weaknesses. But they don't enjoy our luxury of anonymity in troubled times. We should allow them their human frailties - along with the time and space to cope with tragedy.