Being part of a memorial service is both an honor and a stress. A memorial service is different from a funeral in that the body of the deceased isn’t present at a memorial service. The service may take place immediately following the death, or it may occur weeks later. The service focuses more on the life of the individual than on the disposition of the body. Sharing stories and speaking are integral parts of a memorial service.
Talk to the person planning the memorial service about how your story will be used. Some memorial services include several speakers; accept any guidelines you are given regarding length. Discuss if the service has religious restrictions. Ask if there is a specific theme for the service. For example, if your aunt spent her life in the military, you may want to include or focus on a military moment you shared.
Think about your aunt and your earliest memory of her. If you were close to her, she may have been a part of your life since infancy. If she married into your family, you may have become close as adults.
Look at pictures of your aunt. These might be pictures of times you shared, or pictures of times you never saw. Talk to family members about the history of the pictures.
Choose a theme for your story. If there is a theme for the service, consider a story that goes along with that theme. For example, if your aunt was an avid herbalist, consider sharing a story about growing herbs with her. Extend the story to show how that experience shaped your life in some way.
Share humor if you aunt was funny. Don’t try to force humor into a difficult or tragic situation, but if she always laughed about the fact that she couldn’t get enough “Wheel of Fortune,” laugh along with her memory.
Read your story aloud. Listen for flow and clarity. If possible, ask someone else to listen to the story before sharing it at the service.
Time your story to ensure that it falls within your allotted span. The last thing you want is to add to mourners' stress by going too long.