DEAR ABBY: I recently attended yet another funeral where several speakers shared reminiscences of the deceased. As charming and comforting as the stories were, it was very frustrating to listen to even the most heartfelt comments when I had no idea who the speakers were or their relationship to the deceased.
Relatives and friends came from hundreds of miles away. The church was packed with schoolmates, neighbors and friends. My family were not the only mourners who had no clue about who these speakers were. A simple, "My name is Bill Smith. Tom and I played football at Granite College together," would have been so considerate. Even the clergy remained anonymous.
One notable exception was a service that Cardinal O'Connor conducted for a longtime friend in Washington, D.C. He didn't presume that everyone knew who he was, and introduced himself and his relationship to the deceased. It made his participation poignant and personal. -- MIFFED MOURNER IN DELAWARE
DEAR MIFFED: Your suggestion is one of the ABCs of public speaking that should be remembered by anyone stepping before a microphone. However, most speakers at funerals and memorials are amateurs who are unaccustomed to speaking before an audience (most are emotionally stressed as well). I'm sure the people you heard were speaking from their hearts, so attribute their omissions to inexperience.