October: The Awareness Month

october

Most people in the US probably know that that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. We’ve all seen the hot pink yogurt lids, hot pink jerseys on athletes, and the messes of hot pink ribbons, lanyards, shirts, and buttons in the grocery store. The hot pink items for breast cancer are hard to miss because they have been embraced in so many places, and by so many products and companies… They are everywhere, especially during October.  

But did you know that in addition to breast cancer, October is “the month” for 24 other issues? For some reason October is the most commemorative, most awareness raising month of the year. Check out wikipedia’s list of commemorative months for the whole list throughout the year. You’ll see that August doesn’t commemorate or bring awareness to any issue, and July is only “National Ice Cream Month”, but October has a whole list, including some very serious problems. Weird, right? Anyway, I have no idea why October is so popular. But what I do want to talk about is two of the issues in October that are close to my heart and don’t get very much attention, but should: domestic violence, and infant and pregnancy loss.

Domestic Violence

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Unlike breast cancer, which I consider to be a “popular” issue, DV is hushed up. No one likes to talk about DV. It’s seen as a problem in the home, in the family; but it’s not — DV is a widespread, societal problem. But if we work hard in our communities, it could be stopped. So in an effort to raise some awareness, I’ll share a bit of information about DV.

Domestic violence is a pattern of behaviors in which one person attempts to gain or maintain power and/or control over their intimate partner. Domestic violence is not always physical abuse; it can also be verbal, emotional, sexual, financial, and spiritual, and it includes stalking.

image source: https://i0.wp.com/www.whitehouse.senate.gov/imo/media/image/VAWA_no_title_640_by_400.png?resize=640%2C400&ssl=1
image source: https://www.whitehouse.senate.gov/imo/media/image/VAWA_no_title_640_by_400.png

Domestic violence is extremely common and has lasting effects:

There are ways you can find help and ways you give help:

Infant and Pregnancy Loss

October is also Infant and Pregnancy Loss Awareness Month, and October 15th is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. I didn’t know about this until I entered the world of infertility and I started to see it mentioned in posts and on pins on pinterest… and then I experienced my own loss, which made the month personal for us. I see October as an extra opportunity to remember and honor our lost baby. It gives us an opportunity to connect and share with others, to stand together and remember.

image source: http://luminouslightstudio.com/2015/10/october-is-pregnancy-infant-loss-awareness-month/
image source: http://luminouslightstudio.com/2015/10/october-is-pregnancy-infant-loss-awareness-month/

Living children are celebrated everywhere, and certainly on every holiday throughout the year… but lost babies are widely forgotten or ignored, in part, I believe because they make other people uncomfortable. I see October as a way to bring awareness to this problem and to remember lost children. Having an awareness month for infant and pregnancy loss is also validating — it says to me that even though no one wants to talk about it, my loss is real. It also says to me that my experience is not in isolation, even though it feels like it. There are so many grieving parents out there — 1 in 4 women will experience pregnancy loss — and so many are suffering silently and alone. But we can change this as a society. We can remember with each other. We can support parents who are missing their children. We can be more sensitive and compassionate.

If you’re wondering how you can help…

Here are some posts on honoring babies who have been lost:

And here are tips on supporting someone after infant or pregnancy loss. Please keep in mind that support isn’t only important immediately after a loss — healing from the loss of a baby can be a lifelong journey.

For more infant and pregnancy loss awareness images, please visit Luminious Light Studio.

Awareness Matters

Being aware of issues like domestic violence, infant and pregnancy loss, and the many other issues highlighted in October is important because when we know about something that needs to change, we can stand together and make a difference. Even though individually we may feel powerless, together we are strong. Together we can talk about these tough issues. We can learn about difficulties facing our world and do what we can to spread our love and support. We can work to end domestic violence and support its survivors. We can remember the babies who were gone too soon, and comfort and support their grieving parents. We can be more sensitive and inclusive of people facing difficulties or heartache. We can speak up about important issues and get involved with movements that matter.

October is ending soon and it might feel like I’m a bit late to the game for this month of awareness… but really, at the end of the day month, October awareness is just the beginning anyway. There is so much to learn about problems facing our communities and our world, and so many ways we can share love and support, and get involved. Humans are capable of societal change and very great love and compassion… when we want to be. So let’s not waste that potential. Instead, let’s work together to make our world a better place.

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