Valentine’s Day is a time to reaffirm those most important in our hearts and lives – spouses, children, parents, and loved ones of every type. Even pets get special presents from their owners on February 14th. In fact, Americans spent nearly $20 billion on Valentine’s Day last year with the average present costing $98. The most popular gifts are no surprise: candy, flowers, and jewelry. Feel cheap yet?
The day is drawing close, do you have your gift picked out and dinner reservations made?
The pressure is mounting.
Setting cynicism aside, the day does offer a nice way to share feelings. But what can you do if someone you love is in the hospital, in the midst of treatment, or is consumed by the health battle of a child or parent? It might take some planning, but here are some creative thoughts on how you can give love to your sick Valentine.
- Visit. If you have a friend or loved one battling illness, an intentional gift of presence can be just what the doctor ordered. Of course, you must be sensitive to their treatment schedule and how they feel. Be attentive to them while there and be ready to cut the visit short if they appear in need of rest. Here’s a bonus tip: if your spouse is sick, clear your calendar and take a day with the sole purpose of giving the time to them.
- Write a note. People don’t correspond enough and that makes a handwritten note all the more precious. Turn off everything with a keypad and screen and retrieve a pen and paper. It might take some practice since you can’t backspace, use acronyms, or insert emojis, but a few pages of written sentiment relay special feelings that an email or text cannot.
- Make something. Not everyone can handcraft a jewelry box or sketch a portrait, but surely there is something you could make. Remember how special it is to be handed a gift from a proud child and come at it from that angle. Love isn’t found in the gangly, glazed ashtray given to a non-smoker; it is realized in the hours spent forming clay on the potter’s wheel with the recipient in mind. Poor quality will be overlooked and may even become its own fond memory in time.
- Offer a helping hand. If your loved one is in treatment, chances are they need help of some kind. Think mundane, behind-the-scenes, no chance of glory acts they simply cannot do for themselves right now – run carpool for kids, do the shopping, fix a meal, clean their home. Practical help can be a lifeline to someone drowning in the reality of sickness.
- Be their audience. A patient in treatment hears more words than they can take in, but they seldom feel heard. If you can take the time to sit by their bed and hold their hand, do that. If not, offer your ear through the phone. Listening to their hopes and fears is a real way to help them recharge for the fight ahead.
- Be Practical. If you are inclined to give a gift, know that most treatments have dietary restrictions and if chemo is involved, they might not be able to stand the smell of flowers. Everyone is different, but you might want to shelve the candy for this year and look for something that will help them feel better or even take their mind off their trouble. You wouldn’t want to give them something they can’t eat or worse, makes them sick. Some practical suggestions are magazines, books, quality hand lotion, lip balm, fuzzy socks, or a journal with pens, just to name a few.
- Plan an outing. If your Valentine is too sick to travel now, plan a future getaway for the end of treatment. Maybe it is a concert, a weekend away, or a much-needed vacation. This can be a huge help because not only does it communicate your love, it gives them an end-goal to point toward – something good to focus on when the treatment gets hard.
- Give a distraction. Is your sick Valentine a reader or movie junkie? A few new books or movies could go a long way toward taking their mind off of their illness. For kids, gift cards for music and apps or a device to play them on can break the boredom of long hours in the hospital.
These are just a few ways you can give love to your Valentine when they are sick or stuck in treatment. The choices are endless. Mostly, what you should try to convey is that you are right beside them every step of the way. Regardless of what you spend, a thoughtful gift will affirm your devotion and make their circumstance a little more bearable.