How to Buy a Guy a Present

July 22, 2008 by  
Filed under Relationships

how to buy a guy a presentBoys complain about buying present for girls, but men are often very difficult to shop for. There is always the boring tie, or the useless gadget, but what kind of gift shows a guy you care? That, of course, depends on the guy! Here’s how to buy your guy a present.

Determine the Occasion

There are certain gift-giving occasions such as Christmas and birthdays where we feel obligated to give gifts. Even if you truly want to find a gift, there is an extra pressure of finding just the right thing. Other times, you want to give a gift simply because you were inspired to do so by something you saw on the store shelf of because it just seems like fun.

The occasion can make a difference in the kind of gift you buy. Formal occasions such as Valentine’s Day, Christmas and birthdays seem to demand larger, more expensive presents. Gifts given on a whim are often more of a token or in fun making them less expensive and less serious.

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Look for Clues

Some men are thoughtful enough to leave clues or hints as to what they would like. Even if your guy is unaware of it, he may be leaving plenty of clues. A broken watch sitting on the counter is a bold sign. So are the shoes that have holes in the soles from lack of use and the dead plant on the counter. Look around his home to see what he needs, and listen to him talk to other friends to get clues as to what he would like to have.

Consider His Personality

You must also consider the personality of your guy. Is he the type of guy who would love beer stein and chia pets for Valentine’s Day, or is someone who would rather have a home cooked meal and candle light? Guys with a sense of humor are often easier to shop for than those who are more seriously romantic. There are simply more fun gifts than romantic ones for men.

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Buy With Your Heart

Finally, buy a gift with your heart more so than with your head. You may have every indication that he wants a new golf club. You can buy him the golf club, but be sure you are enjoying the gift giving. If that means buying a humorous golf club cover to go with that club, by all means, knock yourself out. A gift is not an obligation, it is an item freely given by your heart, so be sure you select it with that same organ.

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How to Serve Gelato

July 15, 2008 by  
Filed under Food & Drink

how to serve gelatoThe sweet frozen dessert hailing from Italy is similar to Ice Cream, but with a bolder flavor and fewer calories. Gelato is a wonderful dessert to serve at garden parties, showers, or birthday parties as it is festive, unusual and delicious. Here’s how to serve gelato.

Buy Gelato and Accessories

Wholesale gelato and accessories can be purchased over the internet. Many gelato retailers sell sorbets as well if you’re interested in a lighter frozen treat for your party. Purchase the amount of gelato you need along with the proper serving utensils. If you’d rather, you can also rent or buy a home gelato machine to make your own dessert the day of the party.

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Keep the Gelato Frozen

Gelato is lighter than traditional ice cream, so it might melt more rapidly if not kept completely frozen. Store the gelato in a freezer around 30 degrees, just below freezing level to be sure it stays soft and fluffy rather than hard.

Arrange Festive Bowls

You can serve gelato in thin cones commonly found throughout Italy, or if you’d appreciate a more formal presentation, you can arrange any sort of bowl you’d like. Use champagne glasses, ice cream bowls, or even salad plates to serve the gelato to your guests.

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Serve the Gelato

Gelato is beautifully textured in its container, especially if you freeze your own in an attractive serving pan. You might consider displaying and serving the ice cream in front of your guests rather than in the kitchen as the very confection itself can add to the festivities and decorations.

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How To Punish Bad Behavior

July 14, 2008 by  
Filed under Family & Parenting

how to punish a childIn today’s society, we as parents are limited on the methods or extent that we are allowed to punish our children. However, we are still responsible for our children’s behaviors. This can leave parents feeling extremely frustrated and often helpless. While not taking sides on issues that are better left to politicians, I am a strong believer that kids can learn from, and be punished for, negative behavior without the need to for physical punishment.

As a mother of 4 children I have faced almost every possible situation that would require me to punish one of my children. There have been times that they have tested my patience and self control.

I believe however, that they are as well behaved as they are in part because I have chosen to not use physical means of punishment. In fact, it is important to note that different behaviors warrant different punishments. For example: When my oldest daughter takes advantage of her cell phone privileges and calls her friends or accepts phone calls from her friends when she is suppose to be in bed, she loses her phone privileges. While if my youngest son were to run out in front of the street he would receive a verbal scolding and be put in time out.

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The severity of punishment also depends on how many times an offense was committed.

The First Offense:

Let’s take the example of my daughter using her cell phone when she is not supposed to. On the first offense she will lose her phone for 1 day. Children are very intelligent and often explaining to them why they are not allowed to do something will prevent repeated offenses.

The Second Offense:

Kids are kids however, and if you are a parent you know that there are times when you simply cannot get through to your child on an adult level. In this example, increasing the duration of the original punishment will usually suffice. Removing cell phone privileges for 2 days or more can often “stress” the seriousness of your point of view. Be aware however, once you enter into this phase of the punishment, you are beginning a battle of wills. Children often “test” their parents and will not follow your rules simply as a way of contesting your authority. Most often they do not even realize why they are not obeying. This is yet another reason to avoid physical punishment if possible.

Regardless of the age of the child, removing an item or activity that they like for an extended period of time is punishment enough. My youngest child has special needs and for some children you will need to be especially patient.

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NOTE: It is important to mention that during the second phase of punishment, consistency on your part is paramount. You MUST follow through with any warnings or threats that you have issued. This can be difficult, especially when it would be easier for you to “give in” to you child. For example: If your child has a birthday party coming up and you know that even if you tell your child that they may not attend because of something they have done, but you intend to let them go the whole time, you are not doing anyone, especially yourself, any good. If you tell your child that they cannot go to the birthday party, you need to have already decided that they are not going to go and expect them to beg, plead and cry when the day comes and stick to your guns.

The Third Offense:

The third offense is the most important and severe offense, requiring unique and inventive ways to punish your child. At this point, your previous methods of punishment have not worked and you need to think outside the box to find an effective way to impart the importance of being obeyed. All “testing” of the parent is done and this is the point where you put your foot down and take severe, but gentle, action.

Let’s refer back to the example of my daughter using her cell phone at the wrong time. At this point, I have expressed my expectations and demonstrated that not obeying my rules results in negative consequences for her. Having removed the cell phone for a few days at a time I have demonstrated that continuing the wrong behavior results in her losing the cell phone. For the third and FINAL offense I remove the cell phone permanently.  All privileges are revoked and the cell phone is cancelled or sold.

It is important to note that the third offense is the last offense. Your punishment should reinforce that concept, removing the ability for your child to repeat the offense.

In time, your child will learn that once they reach the second offense, they had better not “test” you any further. You will start to see that, while they will continue to challenge your authority through the first offense, your child will rarely repeat the behavior a second or third time.

Consistency:

Again, it is important to mention how important consistency and patience are. Just as you are training your child to follow the rules you set, you must also train yourself to follow through and remain calm. You should NEVER lose patience with a child. Stick to your rules and punishments and over time, your child will begin to comply with your rules without thinking about it.

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How To Keep From Spoiling a Child

July 14, 2008 by  
Filed under Family & Parenting

how to keep from spoiling a kidHave you ever walked through a super market and come across a kid kicking and screaming in the middle of an isle with the parent unable to control their child? Most of us have seen this in one form or another and it is obvious that the child is completely spoiled and used to getting their own way.

But, what do you do if this is your child? First, let’s understand that spoiled behavior is a learned behavior and therefore it CAN be reversed. The difficult part is teaching yourself appropriate responses to bad behavior and then following through with consistent discipline.

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  • Avoid giving into your child so that you can avoid having to deal with bad behavior. When you give a kid what they want simply to keep them quiet and well behaved, you are telling them that you are willing to play by their rules.
  • Don’t always put your child first. As children grow and begin to face the real world they will discover that the world does not revolve around them. Start this lesson early and make sure that they know that you are allowed to take time to yourself.
  • Don’t constantly protect your child. Obviously this does not mean letting your child have free reign. It does however, mean that you should let your child fail sometimes. We all learn by doing and experience will teach your child much better than you ever can. As your child gets older, let the rope that separates your wants and their natural desire to explore, get longer.

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In addition, parents who are well off financially have the tendency to give in to their children(s) every want. This leads to difficulty later on in life and can cause destructive and unwanted behavior. Decide what your child is allowed to have BEFORE you leave for the store or on your errands. Do not give in to the child’s desire for instant gratification.

It is important to give kids the tools they need to learn how to earn what they want. Being a single mother of 4 makes it difficult at times, but I continually have to remind my kids why we work for what we want and not everything is given to us. They have learned along the way that if they want something they don’t need and a special holiday or birthday is not in the near future, they will do what it takes to earn the money themselves.

It is very rewarding for the parents and the kids when they achieve their goals in this fashion. We live strongly by the NIFIL rule. (Nothing In Life Is Free). This will help kids out in the future when they don’t have us to lean on whenever something comes up.

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How to Plan a Pregnancy

July 14, 2008 by  
Filed under Family & Parenting

how to plan a pregnancyA pregnancy is an exciting time. But many fail to realize that preparing for pregnancy is as important as actual conception. If you’re ready to become a parent, here’s how to plan your pregnancy.

Prepare the Body For Pregnancy

The woman’s body should be as prepared as possible for pregnancy. She should stop taking birth control pills or remove any other chemical or hormonal birth control devices well before starting work on conception to give her hormones a chance to stabilize. This also gives the body time to clear away any lingering chemicals.

The mother should be at a healthy weight for her size for an easier conception and to ensure fewer complications during pregnancy and delivery. Regular exercise is good during pregnancy, so it is wise to be in the habit prior to conception.

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The prospective mother should also begin taking prenatal vitamins before conception. The first few weeks of a pregnancy are when these extra vitamins and minerals are most important, but often a woman doesn’t experience pregnancy symptoms until five or six weeks into the pregnancy.

Prepare the Home For Pregnancy

Is there space for a baby and all the large items that come with it? It is far easier to move before pregnancy than during it to avoid stain and stress on the pregnant mother.

Prepare the Finances For Pregnancy

Babies are expensive. While there is no perfect time to become pregnant, if you are facing financial difficulties, can’t pay your existing bills or foresee financial difficulties you might be better waiting until you are in a comfortable or stable position before conceiving.

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Prepare the Mind For Pregnancy

You should be in a steady place in your mind. A baby should not be a solution to any problems or a method to save a relationship. Both partners should agree to try for the baby before stopping birth control.

Timing of Conception

Once you are prepared, the trying can begin. This should be a joyful time, not stressful. While it is hard to wait, most couples take more than one or two months to become pregnant. If you are looking for a specific time of delivery, for example the spring, get started a bit early to give yourself some time for false starts.

While every woman is different and every lifestyle is different, fertility begins to wane earlier than most women realize. In your twenties you have an 80% or higher chance of getting pregnant easily. By your early thirties your odds have dropped to 60%, and by thirty-five you have only a 50% chance of easily becoming pregnant.

Boosting Your Chances To Get Pregnant

To boost your chances of becoming pregnant each cycle, you can monitor for ovulation using basal readings or an ovulation predictor kit. You also are more likely to conceive if you are at a healthy weight, are active, are not overly stressed and eat a healthy and balanced diet.

Timing Sex

You should ideally have sex the exact moment your body releases an egg. Since most women have no idea when this is occurring, you can chart your ovulation using a kit or your temperature to get an idea of when you should be having sex. At the very least, you should be having sex every two or three days to ensure there are sperm ready and waiting for the egg whenever it releases. (Sperm can live up to five or more days.)

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How to Feed a Baby

July 14, 2008 by  
Filed under Family & Parenting

how do I feed a babyConsidering babies are said to only “eat, sleep, and poop,” they certainly manage to make the eating portion of their existence complicated. Here is how to feed your baby by age:

Months 0-4

Babies need only breast milk or formula through month four. Contrary to popular belief, solids or cereal will not help your baby sleep better, but they can mess up her sensitive stomach.

Months 4-6

Some babies are ready to begin solid foods at four months. Signs of readiness include being able to sit assisted, excellent head control, showing marked interest in the food you eat, and not being satisfied after 24-32 ounces of milk or formula each day. Speak with your pediatrician about the right time to start solids as every child is different and many now feel that waiting until six months is the best option.

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When you do offer your baby solids for the first time, use a soft tipped baby spoon to protect her gums. You can offer essentially any baby food, but rice cereal is usually the first choice as it presents little chance of allergies and is mixed with familiar milk or formula. Feed a tiny bit and wait for it to come back out thanks to the tongue thrust reflex. This reflex will go away shortly.

Months 6-8

After you have introduced cereal, continue to introduce other grains such as barley and oatmeal, then fruits and vegetables. Wait 3-5 days after each new food to be sure no allergic reaction is present. Most parents wait to introduce citrus and strawberries as these have high rates of allergic reactions in many children. You should also begin offering your baby a cup at this age, and she is also most likely ready to chew on a biscuit or piece of toast that she can grip with her fist.

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Months 8-10

You can now introduce dairy and protein foods. Proteins include beans, meats and yogurt. Dairy products should be full fat yogurts, cottage cheese and other soft cheese your baby can gum up. Your baby is now developing the pincher grip which allows her to pick up individual bites and put them in her mouth. You should greatly encourage this self feeding, but watch her very carefully as she learns to chew and swallow properly.

Month 10-12

Gradually encourage greater use of the cup, spoon and self feeding of finger foods. By her first birthday, your baby should be eating the same table foods that you are eating at every meal.

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How to Dress a Baby

July 14, 2008 by  
Filed under Family & Parenting

how to dress a baby The rules to dressing a baby are simple. Once a baby has learned to regulate her body temperature, which happens within days of birth, she should be dressed the same way as you, but with one additional layer.

What this means is that if you are wearing a t-shirt, shorts and tennis shoes, you can dress your baby in essentially the same outfit. Pull on a one-piece t-shirt, or onesie. Then put on the coordinating pants or skirt. Your baby won’t need shoes for many months, but she should wear socks to help keep her feet warm.

General Tips for Dressing a Baby

For the additional layer, you have a few options. Many parents put a hat on their baby and this is an excellent idea. But a lightweight jacket, hoodie, or sweater may be an excellent idea as well.

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Dress a Baby in Layers

The best bet to dress a baby is to always have her in layers. This way you can remove a jacket when it’s warm outside, but put it back on should the air conditioning make a room cool. Babies sitting in strollers are not especially active, but they may not be getting much air circulation either. To check your baby’s temperature and comfort level, feel her chest or back. Baby’s feet and hands are often cool to the touch thanks to developing circulation.

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Your Baby’s Shoes

Babies don’t need shoes until they start crawling or pulling up to stand. And even then, they are not really required unless the baby is outside on an abrasive surface. Hard sole shoes should be avoided while your baby is learning to walk. Use soft soled crib shoes or even slippers to protect your baby’s feet but to let her feel the ground as she is learning to balance. Babies also tend to curl their toes and feet, and hard soled shoes can fit their little chubby feet uncomfortably.

Your Baby’s Socks

Many parents have a hard time finding socks that stay on baby’s active feet. Socks help keep your baby’s temperature stable, but can be kicked off in seconds with the right movements. Find socks that roll or cuff at the top as these stay more securely on baby’ feet without making indentions around baby’s ankles the way elastic topped socks might.

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How To Choose The Right Method of Delivery

July 14, 2008 by  
Filed under Health & Fitness

how to choose the best method of birthWhen it comes to giving birth, the parents have a lot of decisions to make about the procedure used to deliver your baby. If you have had a baby in the past then you will have had the choices just before he/she was delivered so you have a good idea on how you would like your next addition to your family to be delivered.

Many people still believe that a natural birth without any anesthetic or painkillers is the best method as it has been used since the very beginning of time and was the only method given to women in the olden days if everything went to plan without any complications. With the new invention of various painkillers and drugs which can be used in conjunction to give a pain free delivery, there is no need to suffer when you don’t necessarily need to.

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If you’re feeling brave enough to attempt to have a natural birth you do also have options, if you start to feel that the contractions are getting to strong and your unable to cope you can have an epidermal which is an injection into the lower section of your spine which will remove any discomfort you are having, this truly does give a pain free delivery. You have to be careful though because after you have dilated so much you are not allowed to have the epidermal so make your decision on how you want to go about it as soon as possible. Another method of pain relief which can sooth the soreness and make this painful situation a little more comfortable is gas and air, this has different effects on different people and you cannot tell how you will be affected until you try it. It can make people feel drowsy and feel sick in some cases

Another method of birth which is becoming more popular in today’s world even amongst some celebrities is a water birth. This is where the midwife will come out to your home and perform the birth in a pool of water. The official birthing pool’s can be quite expensive and you may not have the facilities to host such an item. There are many different alternatives in which you can consider as a birthing pool, a children’s paddling pool can be sufficient and make a great substitute. Failing that you can even perform a water birth in your very own bath tub just be sure to clean it thoroughly as a bath full of plasma would be enough to put anyone off. The benefit of having a water birth is the fact that the water provides buoyancy and can relax the mother which will make it easier to delivery the baby. This method can provide a safe delivery which will not put your health or the baby’s health in danger which is why it is becoming more popular amongst many people.

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The last method of giving birth may not be optional in some extreme cases, a caesarean section or "C" section is often used as the last resort if there have been any complications during labor which may have been over looked. A caesarean is where they take the baby out of the uterus by making an incision in the lower stomach and opening it up. This procedure can be requested if you have gone private as many women tend to have a tummy tuck whilst they are under surgery making the excess skin disappear even faster. Women see this as a viable alternative as it will reduce the pain of going through labor and having the trouble or attempting to push the baby out. The downside to this procedure is the same as any other surgery, there are considerations which shouldn’t be overlooked to ensure the safety of you and your child.

There are many advantages as well as disadvantage of each method of delivery, it’s always recommended that you seek advice from your midwife who can go through each variation of birth with you so you can take the information away with you to talk it through with your partner and make an educated decision on which will suit you the best.

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How to Choose a Name for a Baby

July 14, 2008 by  
Filed under Family & Parenting

how to choose a name for a babyNaming a baby is one of the most exciting parts of pregnancy and childbirth. The name you select will have a profound impact on your child’s life and should not be taken lightly. To choose from all of the baby names available, consider the following steps:

Clear the Air

Be open-minded when you settle down with your significant to dream about baby and his or her name. Women are not the only ones who have ideas from childhood about what their baby will be named. The first step in discussing names is to get dreams, preferences and expectations out in the open.

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If you’ve always dreamed of naming your baby girl Samantha, but your significant other only likes creative and highly unusual names, you need to clear the air. Offer your own general opinions and the thoughts you’ve already had. Listen to his. Then put those on the back burner and work toward a compromise that suits both of you and the unborn child.

Family

Is there a tradition in your family that you would like to continue? If your husband is a junior, perhaps your son should be a junior. If girls are names after members of the family, you might prefer to follow the tradition.

Heritage

Examine your heritage. Are there specific names or customs that are especially meaningful and applicable to your baby? Is the due date on the pregnancy calendar symbolic in anyway?

Brainstorm

Use a baby naming website or book to browse through and brainstorm about possibilities. Each parent should make a list of top choices and then share the lists to look for similar or identical selections. If one partner has a strong opposition to a name, cross it off the list. Naming your child is about reaching a decision together, not forcing a name on both your spouse and your child.

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The Short List

Whittle down names until you have a short list. Then practice the names. Do they sound right with your last name? Do the initials spell anything embarrassing? Yell them up the stairs – does it fit your home and lifestyle?

You then can keep a short list until delivery or pick the name that appeals the most to both parents. If you are stuck between two names, ask a trusted friend for her opinion or use one name as the middle name.

Flexibility

Finally, be prepared to change your mind. It is perfectly acceptable to change your mind during delivery or even the last few weeks of pregnancy. Sometimes babies need names like, “Hope” or “Joy” that have extra special meaning you would never have known about before delivery. And other times you just realize that your little boy looks more like an Aaron than a Zebidiah once you’ve gotten a good look at him. Be flexible – you’ll need it the rest of your parenting career.

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How To Write A Bereavement Poem

July 14, 2008 by  
Filed under Education & Reading / Writing

how to write a bereavement poemLoss is as much a part of life as birth and death.  As painful as loss is to experience, there is a solace to which the poet has access.  In writing, the poet can process their loss in a meaningful way to help facilitate personal healing.  Whether the loss is the end of a relationship or the more final loss of someone’s death, a poet has an outlet in words and verse.  (For the sake of this guide, I am going to focus on death.  However, please understand that any loss is experienced as a kind of death and the process of healing through poetry cannot be underestimated nor is there an intentional implication that death is the only real loss.)

When writing a bereavement poem, it is best to first write something in prose and not attempt to write a poem.  I suggest this because it is easy, given the natural use of metaphor and abstractions in poetry, to write a poem that is so vague as to have nothing concrete for the reader to fully appreciate or understand your piece. The problem is that sometimes we are so close to the pain that it is hard to actually write about it.  Caught between a rock and a hard place, we need to write about how we feel but what we feel is so overwhelming that what we write is likely going to be more safe than honest.

One of the best ways to begin writing about your pain is not in poetry but in prose.  If you keep a journal, this is a natural outlet in which you can write what you are feeling.  However, you may find that even this outlet is too emotionally difficult for you.  Another useful means of writing through your grief is to write an unsent letter This is actually a journaling exercise that many psychiatrists have used and one that is accessible to anyone, even the non-poet.  You write the letter as though you were going to give it to the person to whom the letter is addressed. 

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When a friend of mine was raped and murdered, my emotions were extremely raw and it was difficult for me to write about what had happened or how I felt about it let alone form all of this into a meaningful poem.  I was shattered with grief and fueled by anger, going from one extreme to the next.  As I rode through the waves of these emotions, I wanted to write a poem for my friend but knew that my writing would not be worthy of my friend’s memory.  While the emotional energy behind the words would be raw and immediate, I anticipated that what I wrote would be redundant, the same words others had written when someone they knew died, or they would be so abstract as to have any real meaning.

Instead of trying to write a poem, I wrote my friend a letter.  More than one, in fact.  I just returned to the page time and again, writing in conversational prose all of the things I was feeling about her death, about her, about our friendship.  I wanted to get into words the things I never said to her personally and ended up exploring a lot of things I had never fully faced about myself.  I can’t remember how many of these letters I ended up writing but eventually I stopped, knowing intuitively that I had said all I wanted and needed to say.

Only then did I feel ready to sit down and write a poem.  In the past, I have referred back to these prose writings from my journal or within these unsent letters to find elements which I could weave into my poem.  This time I did not refer back to my letters.  I wrote the poem, For Jenny, without rereading what I had already written.  I have no doubt that if I were to compare my unsent letters with the final poem I would find parallel thoughts and ideas.  It may be that sometime in the future I will refer to these prose writings and create another poem, a different poem, written from a different emotional place because more time will have passed and my ability to process the grief will be different.

You may find that you are asked to write a bereavement poem as part of a eulogy or a funeral service.  Because of the expectations and time restraints, it would be easy to make the assumption that you do not have the luxury to spend time on writing a prose piece first.  I would encourage you to please think again.  The time you spend writing a passionate prose piece which you can set aside for at least a day will benefit you tremendously.  You will find, as you write the prose piece, that you will remember details about the person from your shared past that you might not have given thought to in trying to write a poem.  Whether you use every detail in your poem will be your choice but to not take the time to remember as much as you can before writing the poem is to cheat yourself and the poem itself of the richness of your emotional integrity. 

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How you choose to write your poem is ultimately up to you.  Whether you decide to write a form poem (an ode or sonnet, using meter and rhyme) or free verse, your experience in writing this poem will be both painful and healing.  You may also find yourself surprised by what you ultimately write.  When I finished my poem for my friend, I was genuinely surprised by the anger that rippled through the lines.  Recently, when a friend of mine asked me to write a poem for her boyfriend’s grandmother who had died a year ago, I was surprised to find that I wrote the poem from the viewpoint of her boyfriend. 

Allow yourself to write the poem as it comes.  Do not try to make it something different or conform it to the expectations of others.  Frankly, it would be better for you to come empty handed, without the poem someone asked you to write, than to write a poem unworthy of your pain and memories.  Above all else, honor the experience of writing your bereavement poem, aware that to do this will stir up a great deal of pain but promises an equal measure of healing.

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