When the spotlight finds you

The recent commemoration of John F. Kennedy's assassination and the many interviews with 'normal' people (whatever that is) reminded me how we can never know what our day will bring. I am sure for all those involved following Kennedy's assassination, that day started as normally as any other. Little did they know that in a brief moment, they would become part of history. The agent who was seen climbing on the car as it sped away, the doctors who fought to save the slain President, the team who performed the autopsy and so on, all normal people, now part of history.

Barry Albin - Dyer wrote an excellent book about the funeral homes that on one day might be taking the late Mrs Jones to the crematorium, and the next, taking charge of Marilyn Monroe, or John Lennon. I am sure there will be some nervous twitches going on in a mortuary in South Africa right now as they prepare for the funeral of Nelson Mandela.

It should never be forgotten that behind every funeral, whether for the poorest person, the richest person, or the famous person, there is a group of dedicated professionals working to ensure every detail is arranged. Supporting the family, no matter who they may be, as they prepare to say goodbye to their loved one. Nelson Mandela may have been a worldwide icon, a man revered by millions, but he is still a husband, father, and grandfather. John F Kennedy left behind a wife and children. As a funeral director of eighteen years, I have been privileged to play a part in a number of what would be classed as "high profile" funerals. It should never be forgotten that it is a privilege to play that part, not because the person who has died is rich or famous, but because we can support their family who are saying their final farewell, not in the privacy of their own world, surrounded by family and close friends, but in the public spotlight. How we create the private moments they need is what defines us as professionals, making a very public process one that feels intimate for those closest to the person who has died.

My thoughts will be with those involved with the funeral of Nelson Mandela. The person driving the hearse, the person preparing the late President for his lying in state, the person who answers the phone when it rings. Whether in South Africa, in the UK, or anywhere else in the world, these are the unseen heros and should be congratulated on their work.