Living With Grief

Grief Growth

Donate (verb): Give for a good cause

For those hoping for a deep and profound blog, based on the title, sorry, but this one’s about hair.

Hair?! Yep hair and my literal grief growth. Bear with me – “hair” me out!

You may recall that I had an unfortunate encounter at the hairdressers, which you can read about again here. That was back in August 2020… and I haven’t had my hair cut since. At first it was due to that experience, later it was due to the UK lockdown, but then it became about two other things – symbolism and charity.

Hair Today: For Symbolism

In all bruthfulness, I wanted to cut my hair last year, but it had been so long since my last cut, that I decided I needed a meaningful reason to. I therefore decided I would do it at the earliest opportunity, depending on what came first:

a) If I got pregnant again
b) For Summer’s 2nd birthday

Well, as you know, I didn’t get pregnant and then Summer’s 2nd birthday came and went, in March – and I still didn’t feel I could cut my hair. Do you know why? It’s because it’s the last part of me that didn’t look “normal”. It’s the last part of me that was physically notably different, since Summer died. It’s post-loss me.

Pre Summer, my hair was always shoulder length and poker straight. Post Summer, I just stopped bothering with it at all. I didn’t have the heart, inclination or energy to care what I looked like, so I let my hair grow crazily long and super wavy. No-one even knew that my hair was naturally curly – not even me – as I’d been straightening my hair daily (sometimes twice daily!) since my teens.

My mum didn’t really like my curly hair. She kept urging me to get it cut, once even saying something along the lines of “be normal now”, which made me want to keep it even unrulier, for even longer. So I did.

It’s now August 2022 – two years since my last cut – and I decided to do it. I am meeting a loss mum on Saturday, and MONTHS ago (after I apologised for the awful state of my hair, over a video call) she urged me to cut it. She reminded me that Summer wouldn’t mind or wouldn’t want me to punish myself and we talked about all the different ways we carry our babies now. What she said made sense, so I quietly resolved to cut my hair before I met her (in person again) next.

BEFORE: My hair before the big snip

Gone Tomorrow: For Charity

Another reason was my resolve to do something for charity. I have always liked the idea of growing and donating my hair, I’ve just never been in the position to (they ideally want 12 inches). However, having refrained from straightening my hair for so long means that it’s not just the longest it’s been since I was 9 years old, it’s the healthiest too. In fact, it’s the perfect length and condition to donate to the Little Princess Trust – a charity which provides real hair wigs, free of charge, to children and young people who have lost their own hair through cancer treatment and other conditions.

It feels fitting that my growth during grief, should help others with their own trials, especially if it’s to make a little girl or boy somewhere feel more like themselves again. Isn’t that funny? Something I’ve done to intentionally make me look different, will enable someone else to ‘fit in’ again. Huh. Perhaps this is a tad profound, after all.

I’ve also mentioned previously that I had to take 6 months out of trying to conceive again, due to a post-loss procedure (a hysteroscopy to remove adhesions in my womb) routine swab, showing that I had simple endometrial hyperplasia cells – described to us as ‘pre pre pre’ cancerous cells. Given the treatment, this hopefully means that I have potentially stopped/delayed myself from developing an endometrial cancer. So of course, a cancer related charity (strangely) makes sense, as part of my personal fertility rollercoaster.

My final reason for donating is because of my Age UK telephone friend, who I used to volunteer to speak to every week (often twice during the lockdown), to keep her company. We started speaking just after I found out I was pregnant with Summer and as she was still there after I lost her too, the charity work became a deep and mutually beneficial friendship. Sadly, during our years chatting together, my friend’s cancer returned, she really bravely battled through all the chemo, but her body eventually succumbed to the disease last year.

Although our correspondence was only over the phone, I battled with Age UK to let me have one zoom conversation with her, before she lost her hair – that was because she wanted me to see her, as she had always been, not who she had recently become. I eventually won the bureaucracy battle, but it was too late, we had our zoom chat, but all her hair had gone. Towards the end of her life, I told her I was growing my hair for her and one day, I would donate it to be made into a wig for children battling cancer. She seemed really touched by that. So Angela, as promised, this is both for you and for Summer. I recently wore my hair long to your favourite place (Man City’s Ethiad stadium!) and took a moment to remember you, but now it’s gone to a better place. You too may be gone, but you’re never forgotten (I still have the alarm on my phone, to ring you every week). I see you and I remember your own, rebellious hope.

AFTER: 12 inches gone! Sporting my Dame Deborah James “Rebellious Hope” tshirt – a gift from a friend for Mumoirs’ second birthday, as she thought the slogan also summed up the ethos of this blog.

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