Monday, February 16, 2015

What Caregivers Really Love

If you know someone who is a caregiver, you've probably had the frustration of wanting to help but not knowing what you can do. In the past, we've shared some ideas for helping a caregiver you love.

This past Valentine's Day reminded me of one simple thing you can do that will really mean a lot.

Give them a special dinner.

Years ago, my mother and my eldest daughter conspired to put on a "Sweetheart Dinner" for the family on Valentine's Day. It was a sit-down dinner, complete with candles and the good dishes. Each person had a valentine on their plate. They decorated the table beautifully and made a lovely meal.

It was a hit. On a day usually reserved for celebrating passion and romance, it was refreshing to see the family expressing Godly devotion for each other. We continued it for years.

Then our daughter left home, got married, and started her own family. Our son was paralyzed in an accident, and we became his full-time caregivers. The sweetheart dinner fell to the wayside for us. But our daughter continued it with her family.

This year, on a whim, I revived it in our own home. We made a simple meal, lit the candles, and made sure there were plenty of flowers and candy.

Once again, it was a hit. As I thought about it later, I realized why. People aren't used to having others do something lavishly nice just for them, just because they have value in someone's eyes.

Caregiving is a lonely job. It's easy to feel lost in the duties and hard work. It's tough to hang on to our own sense of person-hood sometimes on this journey.

If you really want to encourage someone you know who is a caregiver, give her (or him) a sit-down dinner. The food doesn't have to be exotic. Just light lots of candles, use the good dishes, and let her know that she is appreciated and loved for who she is.

You don't have to spend a lot of money, either. Be creative. Instead of gifts at the plates, set out little scrolls of inspirational Bible verses or quotes from your favorite authors, tied with ribbons. If they can't leave their own homes, take the dinner to them. Sit down with them, listen to their stories, and enjoy a leisurely meal. It doesn't even have to be at a holiday. You can make any day a celebration by bringing joy into the gray lives of someone around you.

Yes, it will challenge you to step beyond your comfort level--just like they have to do every day.

The idea that you cared enough to invest time in them will refill their tired souls. Caregivers know how precious time is. It will bless them.

I promise.