Hair and Loss

Warning: language

I’m losing a lot of hair. I mean, a lot. Way more than seasonal. The last couple weeks, when I brush my hair, there’s enough to over-fill my hand. Enough you can’t see the brush. During the day I can run my fingers through my hair and come out with handfuls. I find hair everywhere.

Our cat caught a dragonfly and stored it in the bathroom. It might have survived, there on the mat, if not for the hair wrapped around it. I tried for several minutes to unwind my hair from the dragonfly, feeling oddly teary.

So I did what anyone would do and went to the internet. Two things immediately came up.

Extreme hair loss several months after an emotional shock or trauma.

Health reasons such as something going on with the thyroid.

I decided to call the doctor and get my thyroid tested, because, after all, that first reason didn’t apply to me.

And then, one word. One punch to the gut. One breathless, all-encompassing weight on the heart.

Sam.

Eight months ago a lot of people went through an emotional shock.

The world lost a world-class kayaker.

A community lost a member.

Parents lost a child.

A brother was lost.

A friend was lost.

Last week someone posted a video of Sam on Facebook. He was being interviewed prior to kayaking a river in Kyrgyzstan. He was serious and focused. But right before the camera moved on, he smiled that famous Sam grin. I watched the video in sadness, but that unexpected grin for those few seconds made it all raw again.

So I’m losing hair and now I’m mad at myself. What right does my body, my soul, have, to claim emotional trauma or loss that makes your hair fall out?

I wasn’t his mother.

I wasn’t his sibling.

They’re the ones who wear that soul-deep grief. They’re the ones whose hearts will never fully heal. I actually thought to myself, you don’t have the right to that kind of grief.

How messed up is that?

But I do have the right to grieve. I do have the right to mourn. I do have the right to sit here crying as I type these words.

I have the right to go completely fucking bald if that’s what my heart needs.

I’m going to make a doctor appointment just in case. Probably. Maybe.

But I’m willing to bet those tests will all come out fine.

Because I’m losing hair from loss.

Because eight months later, nothing has changed.

Because Sam is still gone.

5 thoughts on “Hair and Loss

  1. Lisa so kindly warned me about the content of this blog out of concern that it might cause me more pain about Sam’s loss.
    What she could not know, I think, is how important it is to know that the pain of Sam’s loss that I feel so unceasingly, is shared by others.
    Many people don’t know how to interact about loss and grief and so silence and avoidance are the go-to coping strategies. I very often feel like it’s not really okay to talk about how utterly pole-axed I still am.

    I couldn’t finish watching the movie because when I saw his living face..well…

    This week I contacted a friend of Sam’s who’s a tattoo artist and who has agreed to do a tattoo for me. In the course of our texts he said that he thinks of Sam every say and cries often and talks to his kids about his sadness. I wept after reading them and have read them several times since them.
    As also Lisa’s blog, because if people talk about him and his life and their sadness I don’t feel so alone.

    • We grow silent out of worry that we’ll make your grief worse, or that we might disrupt a moment when you’re somewhat at peace, or peel off a raw scab. We forget the power of words, and the comfort of shared pain. I am greatly comforted by your presence, always.

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