I was at a meeting for a cause I care about deeply when I was handed a wristband for the cause. It was a simple plastic wristband that stated the mission of the organization. I put it on immediately. Throughout the day I would gaze at the wristband and think about what it meant to me. In my reflection, it occurred to me that the cause wristbands of today are an evolution of the traditional mourning bands.
In 2013 you rarely see someone wearing traditional mourning bands. When you do, it is usually on a celebrity or a sports figure. Instead, we have started to express ourselves with plastic wristband bracelets and, for the extreme, as tattoos.
In my 20's, I was cynical and did not support many causes. I used to brag about being cause-free (sort of obnoxious, I know). But as I have gotten older, I have taken on quite a few causes: the plight of caregivers, Alzheimer's and achieving better health (to name a few). I have also experienced significant sickness and loss in my life.
I am thankful the wristbands help raise awareness and get conversations started about causes individuals might have in common. Perhaps wearing a wristband for my father's illness would have been a signal to people that someone I loved was very sick? Perhaps it would have let others know that I was in a delicate state?
But, my father's death rocked me to the core. And I don't think wearing something that was printed at a print shop would have worked. For that I think I would need something more personal like a mourning band to wear on my arm. The wristbands are commercialized like prepackaged sentiments posted on Facebook, Pinterest or in a greeting card. The prepackaged sentiments work, but it's so much better if you add to it.
So I would like to request that we do two things:
- When you see someone wearing a cause wristband, ask them about it. Ask them what motivates them to wear the wristband (and part of their heart on their arm).
- Wear the real mourning band when you feel the cause bracelet isn't enough.
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