Marriage enrichment: Showing caregivers a little love

Valentine’s Day is a good time to let them know how we feel

Valentine’s Day is the day typically set aside for couples to express their love for each other. Although it is a special day for couples, the greeting card industry celebrates all forms of loving relations.

When my father was alive, he would send his four daughters Valentine’s Day cards every year. It was a way to remind his daughters how much he loved them. The memory of those cards from our father will be with me and my sisters forever.

This Valentine’s Day, however, I would like to celebrate a type of love that doesn’t usually have a special Hallmark card associated with it. It’s a type of love that reminds us that giving of ourselves is the best gift of all. This Valentine’s Day I would like to honor all of the caregivers in our lives.

They are the unsung heroes who put their lives on hold while they care for their parents, their wives or husbands, children or friends who are disabled by illness or age. Let’s celebrate the people who struggle every day to care for a loved one, leaving very little time or energy for themselves.

Recently I have been privileged to witness several caregivers in action. These individuals appear to put their own lives on hold while they walk or have walked with someone through the last stages of life.

From the outside, it might look like their life is standing still while they accompany their loved one, but when you talk to them you understand that impression is completely incorrect. The journey the caregiver is on is a perfect demonstration of love in action. This action of love has a positive effect on the person who is being cared for but also affects the caregiver and anyone lucky enough to be within this special circle of love.

A friend of mine passed away in December after a two-year battle with cancer. Her husband was with her every step of the way. They were a private couple, but during all the changes that her illness took them through their deep friendship became visible to everyone around them.

Her husband’s care and devotion was an inspiration to all of us who knew them. It gave us a deeper appreciation and love for the people in our own lives. My brother also is a caregiver for his friend living with cancer. It is a blessing to see my brother’s patience expand and his compassion grow through this experience. Life moves slower for my brother now but he is definitely not standing still. Yes, love is an action verb!

Caregivers do, of course, get tired and frustrated. Increasing stress is an inevitable issue they deal with every day. This Valentine’s Day would be a great time to tell a caregiver that their loving actions have had a positive ripple effect on the world. Their actions are making the world a better place by demonstrating to the people around them what unconditional love really looks like; how love is most assuredly a conscious decision to act.

Take some time this Valentine’s Day to acknowledge the caregivers that you may know in your life and in our community. Take a moment to thank the people who have responded “Here I am, Lord” to God’s call to care for a spouse, aging parent, family member or friend.

Mrs. Christiana is coordinator of the diocesan Marriage Preparation and Enrichment Office.


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