Episode 94: How to use Love Letters to Enjoy Caregiving
When you’re overwhelmed with the bad things that have been happening in your life it’s hard to find the good.
If caregiving is just too much for you at the moment it’s probably difficult for you to spend time enjoying life with the person you care for.
So how can you make it possible to enjoy life with the person you gave up so much to care for?
Let’s talk about Love Letters
Call me old school but I love getting letters and cards in the mail. It’s a lost art form. It’s so much easier to text someone or even send an email than it is to find the right words to say and then write them down without messing up. Find the address and a stamp and then get it out to the mailbox or post office.
Who has time for that anymore?
That’s the thing. It takes a little more effort to go through all of that. So when I get something addressed by hand I get so happy. Someone spent the time to think about me for a few minutes and then go through the trouble to write it all down and actually get it in the mail.
Writing things by hand actually makes a different type of connection than typing it out. That’s why it can be easier for you to remember something if you write it on a piece of paper instead of typing it on your phone.
It’s also a tactile experience. The feel of holding on to the pen or pencil, the resistance of the paper and the action of folding and placing something into the envelope all connect with your senses in a way that electronics can’t provide.
So what does this have to do with connecting with the person you care for?
I think it’s time to bring love letters back.
Aw shucks… don’t roll your eyes or scoff. Hear me out.
If you’ve never written a love letter to someone you’re missing out. You really have to sit and think about the best way for you to tell another person how you feel about them and why.
You instantly start to connect with them because you are focussing on all the good things about them and how they make you feel.
Now if you’re caring for someone who you aren’t romantically involved with this still applies to you. I don’t know of one person that would honestly say they would never want to get a letter from a friend or family member that is all about them and the things they are liked or loved for.
So let’s shake off all the objections. Yes you do have the time. No it isn’t weird. Yes you can write it. Yes you’ll think of things to say. Perfect is whatever you create. And NO you don’t have to give it to them.
This is an exercise that you can chose to share or keep for yourself.
You see when you write this letter you’re going to remember the things you really love about this person. Moments of time that start to come up as special for the two of you are going to remind you of why you’re in this person’s life.
Writing a love letter will help you to remember how much you love and enjoy the person you care for. It’ll help you reconnect with them just by recalling memories that are special for you. It’ll give you the opportunity to really feel the love you’ve always had for them but that maybe has been lost underneath all the crap of caregiving.
This is all meant to help you let go of the barriers and armor you’ve put up lately that don’t allow you to relax enough to take a break and enjoy some time with the person you care for.
So you definitely don’t have to give it to them, although I’m sure they would love to have it.
The second best thing I love about letters is I get to keep them. Text messages get lost in the shuffle and so do any screenshots of them I take. The words lose their meaning as soon as they're read. Where when I’m given a letter not only do I get to hold the paper I know I can save it and read it again.
So let’s say you write this letter and decide to keep it for yourself. Perfect. Anytime you realize that you feel like you’ve become disconnected with them pull out the letter and read it again. Use it as a very special reminder of why you care for them. It’s the perfect way to bring you back to what is most important for both of you.
Don’t know what to write?
Well first of all if you’re keeping the letter for yourself it takes some of the pressure off what to write. It could be possible that you end up having so much fun writing this letter for yourself that you decide it’s a perfect letter to share. So no matter what the goal is in the end try not to get caught up in it being “perfect”. Perfect is whatever you end up creating.
Think of phrases to start you off like:
I really love…
Do you remember that time when…
You could think about the things you miss and write about how much you loved them. Taking what you don’t have and make it positive by remembering how much you loved it.
You could also start off as if you’re describing your loved one to someone else. Imagine they asked you to describe this person to them and why you love them so much to care for them long term.
So go look for some paper, grab a cup or glass of something and take some time to work on this. Maybe grab some tissues too.
Then there’s one last thing and the third best thing I like about letters or even notes. If you’re going to give it to them you could consider hiding it somewhere they’ll find it easily. Maybe it’s their underwear drawer or a book they’re reading. Or you could leave it on the chair they always sit on. There’s nothing better than finding a surprise note or letter.
Or, and this could possibly be the hardest but the one thing that will have the most impact on both of you, you can sit with them and read it out loud.
It’s so easy to loose sight of why we are caregivers. So anything we can do to remember why we give so much of ourselves to this one person is important.
Go write you letter.