helping a loved one

My Sister Is Losing Her Hair And I Want To Help HerHi all. I don’t know if i’m stepping over the boundaries here and if I am, please let me know. I mean no disrespect. I am a family member of someone who has recently experienced hair loss. she’s my big sister and we live together. this has been an absolutely devastating experience for her. She started to really notice thining about a month or so ago and she has been to a couple of doctors, but hasn’t had too many tests done yet. I’ve been trying to find doctors and information for her, but i don’t know if i’m just making it harder. she is having a hard time so i try to take over the logistical stuff so she doesn’t have to think about it.

I guess i’m posting this just to ask you if there is anything i can do to help her or make this less painful. I know i can’t know what she’s feeling, but thought I would reach out to see if any of you could tell me stories of someone helping you make the situation better. She is a very guarded person and she doesn’t let people in very easily. I know she must feel completely isolated and I just want her to know she isn’t. We have a very close family and everyone is here for her when she needs it.

Again, I apologize if I am making anyone feel violated. I just want to help my sister any way I can. Thanks for listening.

~Brooke

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Dear Brooke –

Thank you so much for writing. I think it is really wonderful that you are trying to take on an active role in helping your sister through this extremely difficult time. Hair loss is devastating for any woman, and your sister is not alone in this. I’m certain your support means more to her than you even realize, and I certainly don’t think you are making anything worse by being there for her. Just a couple questions, how old is your sister? Did she recently start or stop taking birth control pills, nuva ring or the patch or experienced any recent extreme weight loss?

You asked for stories of situations where someone was able to make the situation better for the woman experiencing hair loss. For myself, the biggest help was just having someone there to listen to me. My fiance was there from the beginning and he always listened and understood my emotional pain, sense of confusion and fear for the unknown future. He understood my real loss. Having my feelings validated was extremely important to me, it still is. Having someone who believed my words “I am losing my hair” and fully comprehending the impact that was having on me, was helpful to me. What do I mean by believing? By believing I mean not denying or trivializing my pain by telling me “oh you look fine, you’re not losing your hair.” If a woman is losing her hair, she knows it, end of story. On the flip side, words that helped me was when he told me ” I know you are losing your hair, but to the rest of the world you look like you have a full head of hair, so try and enjoy today.” It was very delicate wording. He validated my situation and then gave the best hair complement a women with hair loss could get :) He wasn’t lying either, it was the truth. When we are engulfed in the early stages of hair loss we struggle with what our former image was…. a full head of hair. As it thins, nothing is good enough and the depression and sadness creeps to an all time high even when no one else can really tell. Now people can tell I’m losing me hair, but I’d say definitely for the first 5 years, my secret was known to only me. That didn’t prevent me from feeling ugly, sad and avoiding social gatherings, but it was something I wish I fully realized back then. Having my fiance tell me it “looked like I had a full head of hair” reminded me what I couldn’t remind myself, I was still OK. [click to continue…]

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