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Workin’ on a Love Letter!

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Dr. James D. Huysman

Caring for the Caregiver / / January 29, 2016

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If you have ever received a “Love Letter” you know how it feels to be told that you are special for just being you.  Unfortunately for some of us it evokes nostalgic memories of days gone by.

Everyone needs to know that they are loved and appreciated every once in awhile and, with a few exceptions, caregivers rarely get acknowledged for what they do.  Hallmark has cards for caregivers now as reminders to the buying public that we exist, which should give you an idea of just how many of us there are!

There is something to be said for sitting down and writing a love letter. It’s like part of your soul is revealed in the formation of the letters on the page, both personal and unique to you, the writer; your heart opened to the intended receiver.

The art of the writing the love letter is not dead, but it has changed. Email missives are much more prevalent today.  First of all, they are (many times) easier to read.  Secondly, they are not as time consuming as their handwritten predecessors. Texts, tweets and FaceBook posts have ushered in a new era of communication - even when it comes to love.

A handwritten note inside a birthday or Christmas card is an extra treat, adding something special to the sending and receiving of it.  Handwritten “Thank You” notes are still the norm of those who adhere to the rules of etiquette.  I’ve known people that write letters to God, to their diaries or just for the benefit of getting something off their chest, the contents of which will never be sent. 

I don’t know of anyone who has written a love letter to themselves, but I think it’s a splendid idea (especially if you are a caregiver). 

In a perfect world, all of us would have people in our lives and around us that build us up and let us know that we are loved and appreciated.  If you have that, you are fortunate indeed. There are many who get the message that they are not enough. The need for outside approval can taint our perception of who we are and what our worth is.  For all of us, it is really an inside job.

I have a friend that started sending herself cards and notes of appreciation.  She even wrote, addressed and stamped one and gave it to a friend to keep “until needed”.  She forgot all about it.  At a later time she confided to the friend that she was feeling overwhelmed and frustrated that the loved one she was caring for was taking her for granted.  A couple of days later she received the “until needed” letter she had given to her friend.  She told me that when she opened it her words to herself brought her to tears and made all the difference in making it through that day. 

So I‘m urging you to take matters into your own hands and write yourself a love letter! Just as we are told that happiness comes from within, so does personal acknowledgement and love for ourselves.  Thank yourself for being who you are and what you do.  This is not narcissistic or selfish, it’s a reminder that you have qualities that deserve to be named and appreciated.  Positivity is healthy…and infectious.

Valentine’s Day is weeks away.  It’s a perfect time to show yourself some love. So go ahead; just sit right down and write yourself a love letter.

By the way, if nobody’s told you they love you TODAY, I do!

About The Author
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James D “Dr. Jamie” Huysman, PsyD, LCSW is well-known for his work fiercely advocating on behalf of family and professional caregivers. From running a national caregiver support foundation,contributing to the  AARP Foundation/NASW’s collective “New Guidelines for Caregivers of Older Adults” and co-authoring “Take Your Oxygen First”, to his expert videos on Caregiver Connections for UHC TV, he is a champion of behavioral health and a patient-centered medical culture that is prepared to meet the needs of those they serve.  He works as VP of Provider Relations and Government Affairs for WellMed Medical Management and was recently named an Advisor to the Caron Foundation’s Senior Treatment Program.

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