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Love has many shapes – being a caregiver is one of them

When it comes to caregiving, the language of love is often much less romantic in nature
NorthShoreCommunity
In the Caregiver Coach and Peer Facilitator Program, caregivers are matched with trained volunteers who provide emotional and practical support. (Image via iStock)

It’s that time of year when our attention turns to all things love.

On Valentine’s Day, we tend to dwell on romantic love, candlelight and roses and maybe even some wine and chocolate. We imagine gazing into our partner’s eyes and experiencing the bliss of that passion. As wonderful as that can be, let’s remember that love wears many cloaks.

When it comes to caregiving, the language of love is often much less romantic in nature. Love shows up in the mundane tasks of daily living. Love speaks in the quiet moments of routine. Love reveals itself in the burst of energy, allowing us to continue in the midst of overwhelm. But, love is not only to be given; it must also be received.

Love gets up in the middle of the night, and takes a nap in the afternoon. Love calms the fears of another, and weeps in a stolen moment. Love ensures that another is fed and responds to the wisdom of the body. Love attends to another’s heart and reaches out for comfort and connection.

When we lose sight of our own needs, as many caregivers do, love doesn’t feel like love anymore. 

In our human existence, we struggle to experience limitlessness. As we disconnect from ourselves, we lose connection with others. After a while, all we can hear is the voice in our heads that pushes us on to the next task. We keep doing and forget to let ourselves be. This often turns into resentment, disillusionment, frustration, and a desire to shut down emotionally.

We know what our harried minds want to tell us, but what would love say?

Love would urge us to slow down; it would remind us to breathe. Love would bring us so deeply into the present moment that we couldn’t help but recognize peace. This Valentine’s Day, take a moment to recognize the loving presence that is you, especially if you dedicate your life to the needs of another.

Caregiving can be a very isolating experience. Perhaps, friends have stopped calling, and family has disappeared. As much as we can learn to respond to our own needs, our hearts often long to reach out and feel a sense of connection with others who understand our journey. Resonance with another can do wonders for the soul. At North Shore Community Resources, we have created a program to foster this sense of connection for interested caregivers.

In the Caregiver Coach and Peer Facilitator Program, held by North Shore Community Resources and funded by New Horizons for Seniors, caregivers are matched with trained volunteers who provide emotional and practical support. Meetings can occur in person (as we are able to resume), and also via telephone or computer platforms. We are also in the process of expanding our support group and educational offerings for caregivers.

To be of service is an expression of love and an essential element of self-care for many people. If that sentiment speaks to you and you would like to respond to the call as a Coach or Peer Facilitator in the North Shore area, or, if you are a caregiver wishing to access a coach, please contact Elizabeth at elizabeth.bishop@nscr.ca for more information.

Learn more about the program at www.nscr.bc.ca/information/caregiver.