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Funerals for Those You Barely Know

How to handle that awkward but potentially signficant situation.

Is her name Carrie Mae or Carrie Lou?

My stomach tensed as I stood to give the funeral message. I can't believe I left the name off my notes!

My heart beat fast. I reached into my jacket pocket as discreetly as possible. Where's that obituary? It's soaking up the sweat that's spreading under my arm. It's so damp it's stuck in there. Looks like I'm going to have to do the message with all pronouns-"she" and "her" rather than using her name.

I looked at the family, seated in the first few rows. Will they suspect I've forgotten the name of their loved one? Should I ask them quietly for the name? Should I stop and fumble to get this damp obituary unstuck from my pocket?

I wish I could tell you this was fiction, but except for the name, it's not. My first year in the pastorate included thirty-one funerals, and often I strained to get the names straight. I'd write them in the margins of my Bible. I'd rehearse them in the "green ...

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