Today marks the annual Day of the Dead Celebration (DOTD) here in South Florida (and across the World for that matter). As I prepare to go participate in the festivities, I have been thinking of those lost to domestic violence, and I am reminded of how lucky I am to be alive.
Dia de los muertos is a three-day celebration honoring loved ones who have passed away. As part of the holiday, you will find marigolds, sugar skulls, and skeletons. Perhaps you will come across an ofrenda, or altar, full of items in memory of one who has died.
According to USA Today, South Florida has one of the 10 biggest DOTD Celebrations in the country. That is pretty awesome. People from all over come together, dress up, and march in a processional full of giant puppets, music, and anyone who wants to participate. I’m sure many of them are thinking of those who have passed away, missing loved ones, and honoring the lives of those no longer with us.
As I pause today, putting a bit too much thought into death, I’m also still touched by a book I finished just recently. Although fiction, the realities of domestic violence were clear and the character’s story broke my heart, reminded me of my own past, and made it clear that too many times domestic violence ends in the loss of life.
According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 72% of murder-suicides involve an intimate partner, and 94% of the victims of these murder-suicides are female. Sadly, 20% of intimate partner suicide victims were family, friends, neighbors, law enforcement, and other people who intervened; people who simply were trying to help a victim in need. Numbers like this should not exist. Behavior like this should not exist.
To this day, after all I know, I’m so easily angered by the gall it takes for an individual to feel entitled to hurt another. No matter how much I research and try to understand how so many can be affected by such a hateful crime, I simply cannot. It cuts me to the core each time I hear a story, so much like the last, and so much like my own, as if abusers have a manual from which they study. Behaviors so alike, words and phrases meant to destroy, and coldness I cannot fathom feeling toward another human being. It must end. Too many have already suffered.
So, as I pull on my black dress and clip on my red flowers, I will remember those who didn’t get out in time. I will remember those who have lost mothers and daughters. I will remember the victims of domestic violence…and I will plan for next year’s DOTD celebrations.
There is a place for Forget Me Not Advocacy Group in the DOTD processional. A place where we can reach thousands of people, reminding them of those who have been lost to DV. Look out for us next year, where we will carry our own banner, our own giant puppet, and hand out info to all that will take it.
We are blessed to have life, and we will always remember those who have lost theirs due to an abuser.