COLIN GREEN | Sharing treasured memories 

This is sometimes called a 'tribute', 'eulogy' or a 'funeral oration'.

Speaking some thoughts in appreciation of your loved one is for some people a very great honour and yet for others can be one of the hardest and most emotional things to do. But there is NO pressure on you to talk. I would be comfortable to do this for you if you wish, using thoughts you have shared with me beforehand or even by reading out a script that you have written.

It is important to bear in mind that most crematorium services last just 30 minutes, so care is always needed to plan a speech well. As you prepare, you are not only having to deal with the speech itself, but also with the grief and emotion which surround the death of a loved one. If you are considering sharing some treasured memories about your loved one, the following pointers (based on guidelines published on the 'Presentation Helper' website) may help to get you through:

1.  Take a break to prepare
Before you start to write your speech take a break. Think about what you want to say. If possible go for a walk to mull it over. There are a number of themes that come across in many funeral speeches, including life history, tribute, shared memories and legacy.

2.  Keep it short
A speech has greater impact if it is kept short. Three to five minutes is often enough. You are advised to write it down and rehearse it to make sure that you can keep to time. In presentations and speeches, less is often more.

3.  Focus on the life, not the death
When one is going through a bereavement, it is so easy to focus on the death, and particularly the dying process. In many cases the final years might have been very difficult - and if you have been a carer this may have been hard. But for your tribute, you need to try to focus on the better times, on the happy memories - on the life, and not on the death. Everyone in the congregation will already be sad, so try to give them some happy memories to take away.

4.  Write it down
It is a myth that you should be able to stand up and give a speech unaided. Write down what you have to say.

5.  Rehearse
Rehearsal is key. Rehearse your speech out loud at least four times. One of these should be in front of an 'audience', e.g. a member of the family or a friend. It may not be easy to find the time to do this, but if you can your speech will become much better. It will also give you the best opportunity to fine-tune it.

6.  Have a back-up plan
It is a very emotional time, and one can very easily become overwhelmed. Prepare to have someone on hand to take over in case you break down. This could be a member of the family, a friend or the funeral leader. If possible, make a copy of the speech so that person can quickly take over. This will save the congregation's embarrassment as well as your own.

7.  Don't over worry
It is perfectly normal and acceptable to become emotional at a funeral. Many in the congregation will be in tears. They won't worry if you are.