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By author John R. Ruppel

A few years ago I was forced to face the possibility of losing my wife to a diabetic coma. Thanks to the competent and quick actions of nine first responders, I discovered how valuable love really is. I had to face, for the first time, the real possibility I could lose her.  The thought actually hurt, physically. Actually, looking back, it was really love! A depth of love I believe I had never fully felt before. Thomas Merton, a Trappist Monk, said, “Love seeks one thing only: the good of the one loved.” I was slowly learning his valuable lesson. Even though we had been married for decades, I was just beginning to understand the depth and urgency of my love. Have you ever experienced the panic, the fear, the devastation of almost losing someone you love? Did you find the realization of a deeper love hidden in the pain? I did. Have you also?


What Is Real Love - Maybe for the first time ever, I had come to understand what real love is. There is nothing else like love.  There is no substitute for it. Love is affection for another human being that usually has to be nourished through time. While I appreciated my new awareness, I hadn’t previously understood it, and I knew I certainly didn’t want to lose her to discover it as I did. But I needed to discover it because it helped me commit to always being able to act to protect the life of  my wife.


Protect the Relationship - After reading hundreds of letters, it was alarmed to discover the negative impact caregiving had on not only the love and affection most caregivers have for their loved ones, but also their relationships with others. Any relationship, as difficult as it might be, matters more than the obstacles preventing it from progressing. Love is the answer. Loving is the process. Happiness for everyone is the ultimate reward. Happiness can change hearts and lives.


Prayer Provides Strength - No matter what your belief, praying for another develops love and empathy for them. While the reason for the prayer would be to seek help for your injured or ill loved one, you will most certainly gain as well. Your seeking help and relief for your patient, or for anyone for that matter, will help you develop love and genuine empathy for him or her. Prayer provides strength and hope for all concerned. Prayer may take many forms and applications but all prayers end up seeking a positive and proper result. Seeking heavenly help for a loved one will possibly be strengthening  and love altering for both of you.

Discuss Critical Items With Loved One – It is difficult to imagine a solid human relationship without verbal communication. That is difficult for some individuals but the difficulty doesn’t make it less important. Think of all the things that could be discussed that would draw partners in any relationship closer together. To name a few: intimacy, physical relations, attitudes, parental guidance, religion, use of time, children, family travel, use of money, retirement, large purchases, location of residence, love for each other, personal habits, health, living wills, conventional wills, end of life issues and many more. There is no end to important matters to be discussed and each one bringing two caring partners, closer together as they are bonded with the trust and common understanding stemming from those discussions. If it doesn’t come easy at first, but it still can successfully come.


Final Thought – The relationship between the caregiver and the loved one is paramount for developing and improving a hopeful and happy life. Relationships are perhaps the most important thing (without exaggeration) when it comes to overall life satisfaction, at least for most people. Having a close group of people in your life can keep you happy for life (it can also help you live longer). And no relationship is more important than the one with your loved patient. It should be cultivated. You will be happier and your loved one will be happier in direct proportion to the love and tender caring you provide. Happiness is earned. When happiness is earned, life gets better and, according to experts and multiple surveys, lasts longer.