Q. I’d like to run an in memoriam for my late husband in the newspaper obituary section. Is there any time limit? (My husband died four years ago.) What should I say, and when is the best time to do it?
There’s no expiration date for loving and remembering someone dear to you. I’ve seen in memoriams for people who died nine years ago, 20 years ago—or more. They are public declarations that this person had value and lives on in the hearts and minds of others. The idea is to honor and celebrate the individual before the world. The act is also healing for the bereaved.
Listen to your heart for the best time to do it. Birthdays are especially popular times, and you might say something like, “Patrick, You would have been 70 today. What a loss to us and to all who knew and admired you.” Father’s Day is another obvious choice if the two of you had children and reared a family together. Holidays like Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, or the anniversary of his death come to mind, as well. If he was a veteran of the military, you might feel Memorial Day is appropriate. Or it can simply be any time when the spirit moves you. There is no right or wrong here. After the birth of her first grandchild, one widow’s in memoriam to her husband read, “The baby looks just like you. You live on in him. I miss you so.”
It’s up to you to decide whether to state the date of his death (or of both his birth and death) in the in memoriam – or not. Here are a few examples:
SMITH – Joseph, 5/6/02
Husband, father, grandfather. In our hearts forever.
Riggiano – Albert, Sept. 20, 1943-March 12, 2004
Ten years ago today. You’ll never be forgotten by me and the children.
Some people include a signature, as in, “Happy Birthday, Don. Your loving wife, June.” Others include their children in the signature, as in “The years go by, but you’re cherished always. Ann, Nelly and Arthur
A photo is occasionally included in an in memoriam, although far less often than in obits. If you’d like more examples of in memoriams, check online with your search engine. Or you can call the obituary department of your local newspaper. Trained staff is usually available to help you compose just the right words.
If you have a question for Florence, please email her at email@example.com.
Florence Isaacs is a freelance journalist,author — and a widow herself. Her books include My Deepest Sympathies, When the Man You Love Is Ill,What Do You Say When and Just a Note to Say...The Perfect Words for Every Occasion.
Image via Wikimedia Commons, PRA