Chapter 10 – In Memoriam
The world soon forgets,
But his soul mate, never! In Memoriam
I see the “In memoriam” as my final duty as John’s wife. It is a job that will continue for the rest of my life and cannot be delegated to others. In the “In Memoriam” I am telling the world, “A wonderful man lived and died and I still love and miss him.”
For the first anniversary I did not compose my own “In Memoriam”. All year I had been doing what so many grieving people do. I read, “In Memoriams” in newspapers for comfort. They told me that others had lost loved ones and were still grieving. Most importantly they told me that wives never stop mourning their dead husbands. They are still writing “In Memoriams” 20 or 30 years after their loss without any less feeling of sorrow.
I clipped out and copied the ones that had meaning for me. Over and over I saw people using and reusing my favourite verses.
There were “In Memoriams” that I identified with and there were others that I simply read with sympathy as I tried to understand the stories behind them. This popular verse had an obvious history behind it:
God saw you getting tired
And a miracle was not to be,
So he put his arms around you
And whispered ‘Come to me.”
I imagined the long lingering death of a good person and his wife’s relief when the suffering was over and he could go to his just reward.
Another scenario was behind this verse:
A golden heart stopped beating,
Hard working hands now at rest,
God broke our hearts to show us
He takes only the best.
Another good person whose widow knew he was heaven bound. He was a younger man and I felt the saying, “Only the good die young.” as I read the verse.
I, of course, identified with neither verse. I got my first real comfort from this one, worded as a letter form heaven:
Weep not for me and don’t be sad.
I am happy where I am preparing
A place for all of you beside me.
Love one another, do this for my sake.
I could almost see John writing a letter like that. I like to think he is preparing place for us.
Another one that I found comforting as time went on was this one:
When I must leave you for a little while,
Please do not grieve and shed wild tears
And hug your sorrow through the years
But start out bravely with a gallant smile
For my sake and in my name.
Feed not your loneliness on empty days
But fill each hour with in useful ways.
Reach our your hand in comfort and cheer
And I, in turn, will comfort you and hold you near;
And never, never, be afraid to die
For I am waiting for you in the sky!
Briefly I thought of using it for my first “In Memoriam”, but then I thought, “No, I will use the poem that guided me and comforted me most during those early, chaotic days. It gave a framework and a goal to my life.”
I like to think that it will help and comfort the grieving people who read it as much as it helped me.
My neighbour, a widow of four years, simply tells the local editor that she wants to print an “On Memoriam” for her late husband. The editor brings out a book of poems and she chooses one. This year she chose this poem:
Gone, dear husband, gone forever,
How we miss your smiling face,
But you left us to remember
None on earth can take your place.
A happy home we once enjoyed –
How sweet the memory still-
But death has left a loneliness
The world can never fill.
Actually this is the traditional way to place an ‘In Memoriam”. I have mom’s little undated booklet of verses with the title, “In Memoriam and Card of Thanks, compliments of the Edmonton Bulletin. Inside are the rates – 4- line verse – $1.00; 6-line verse- $1.50, 8-line-verse – $2.00. To place an “In Memoriam” you could write or phone the Edmonton Bulletin department at 26121. Imagine that little booklet dates back to 1940 when Auntie Annette died.
It really doesn’t matter how you choose a poem or what it says as long as it makes you feel good to honour your departed loved one.
Frederick John (John) Benger
March 12, 1993-March 17, 2015
In Memory of John, beloved husband, father, grandfather, brother, uncle and cousin.
You can shed tears that he is gone
Or you can smile because he has lived
You can close your eyes and
Pray that he will come back
Or you can open your eyes and
See all that he has left.
You heart can be empty because you can’t see him
Or you can be full of the love that you shared.
You can turn your back on tomorrow
And live yesterday
Or you can be happy for tomorrow
Because of yesterday.
You can remember him and only that he is gone
Or you can cherish his memory and let it live on.
You can cry and close your mind,
Be empty and turn your back
Or you can do what he would want: smile , open your eyes,
love and go on
Forever missed, forever loved and forever in our hearts
Your devoted wife, Joanne and your loving family