No matter your age or life-stage, there’s always something that stirs in many around Valentine’s Day. For myself, it causes me to pause and reflect on all the love relationships I have in my life and those I admire.
Love stories inspire us, whether fact or fiction. We love a good love story. Perhaps that of new lovers, a mother’s love for her child, the band of brotherhood love- but one that inspire me and “warms the cockle of my heart” (as my grandmother would say) are a few I have been privileged to bear witness to first hand between my clients through Home Instead Senior Care. These are love stories of devotion and deep love that stood the test of time and all life’s struggles. These are real life “The Notebook” story kind of love. Have you heard of that book or seen the movie? Then you know what I’m referencing, if not – rent the film or read the book as I know it will cause great warmth in your heart too. You may even have personally experienced or witnessed this type of love with your grandparents. These are the love stories that end with – he or she died of a broken heart.
What is love and there are so many kinds of love… what is the definition?
Love is unconditional. The word unconditional means there is no exceptions or no limitations to that. To love unconditionally is a difficult thing and most humans aren’t good at that. But true love does really love without trying to change another person.
Psychology today tells us there are seven types of love.
1. There is love you feel for your spouse. Passionate love the kind Greek mythology sparks images of madness brought about by cupid’s arrow kind of love. Over time this type of love deepens and strengthens and transforms into profound friendship based on goodness and a mutual benefit with companionship dependability and trust. I see this very often between couples we have cared for at Home Instead who have been married a very long time, who share an endearing kind of love we all strive for.
2. There is friendship love. Aristotle believed that a person could bear good will (love of friends) to another one for three different reasons… That he’s useful, that he is pleasant and above all that he is a good human of virtue. This is the love of real friends who seek together to live true or fuller lives by relating to each other authentically.
3. The third type is familial love, the love shared between parents and their children. Love within the family.
4. Agape is universal love, love for nature, for God, for strangers, the love human kindness is supported by. It is unselfish concern for the welfare of others. Most people who do volunteer work would fall under this love category. It is the cause that pushes them to devote themselves to helping others. It is associated with better mental and physical health as well as longevity. One could say given the increased anger and division in our society we are currently experiencing, as well as the state of our planet overall, we could all do with, quite a bit more agape.
5. We all know the next form of love. We say things reflecting this kind of love often daily.” I love my favorite jeans or I love these socks- they’re so soft and comfortable.” It is playful and uncommitted love which often includes activities too like I love to go dancing, I love my yoga class, I love going to the gym, etc. You get the idea.
6. And we cannot forget practical love founded on one’s purpose or duty. Like a shared goal. You often hear about this when you hear the term the brotherhood of military man, or that of sorority sisters or fraternity brothers.
7. And the final type of love is one we struggle with in our society. It is self-love. In ancient Greece, a person could be accused of an abundance of self-love with placing himself above God’s word or modern politics- a person who does put himself above the greater good. It is an unfruitful and inflated self-love. In Greek mythology this God was named Narcissus. Unhealthy self-love is more commonly described today with words like narcissistic, arrogance and someone having an inflated sense of one’s own status or worth. On the contrary, healthy self-love is associated with self-esteem and self-confidence. This type of love shows results through resilience and this type of love is open to growth experiences and relationships. With self-love you are quick to feel joy and delight and acceptance and forgive for themselves and others. This is self-love at its best.
Plato said “Of all beautiful and good things, the best, most beautiful and most dependable is truth or wisdom.” That sounds like self-love to me. Perhaps you will reflect on the many forms of love in your life and find a moment if not longer, of gratitude from this practice.
Before I leave you this week I want to share with you an obituary from a couple we cared for in 2006. It is such a testament of love and devotion so eloquently expressed by their beloved children and I share it now with you as we prepare for St. Valentine’s Day. “Their marriage was a long practicum on the tenet that love is a verb, not just a sentiment; this was truly a holy matrimony-not as a decreed by a mere state, but by goodness itself. Their bodies began to fail so they waited for each other and watched each other. At the last minute, it’s as if they held hands and jumped…out of this life together. Together in their passing as they were in life. Gallant and courtly, he waited till she went before, she whose heart would not bear life without him, he who lived to protect and cherish her, goodness flowed in their blood, beloved parents, beloved friends, both of legion courage, both boundless heart.”
My wish for you all is that you feel loved and give love this Valentine’s Day and always.
Julie Ann Soukoulis is the owner of Home Instead Senior care office in Rohnert Park, mother of two and passionate about healthy living at all ages. Having cared for her own two parents, she understands your struggles and aims, through her website, www.homeinstead.com/sonoma to educate and encourage seniors & caregivers. Have a caregiving or aging concern? She’d love to hear from you at 586-1516 anytime.