Watching your friend go through cancer or any similar major health issue can be difficult. You want to help, to be there and be the support they need, but it’s easy to misstep and make them feel uncomfortable or forced into doing something that you believe will cheer them up. We see this regularly at Starkles in the form of well-meaning, loving friends and family who want to help their friend feel better about their hair loss so we’ve compiled some ways to know your friend is ready so that their experience at a wig salon is enjoyable and not traumatic.
When you suggest it
Sometimes it’s not something that a person has thought of and it takes a friend to bring it up. However, while it’s fine to suggest the idea of seeking out a wig or head covering, it’s essential that you step back if they say no. It might be that they’re still processing what they’re going through and aren’t ready to accept it or they may never be ready. Give them some time and bring up the idea again at a later date, perhaps when they’re feeling better about the entire situation.
When they tell you they’re ready
Everyone reacts to hair loss differently. Some people embrace their new look and walk proudly down the street without any hair while others find the process traumatic and shy away from friends and family during this time. While you may think you’d react differently, this time isn’t about what you’d do, so put yourself in their shoes and let them take the lead with their appearance during this time. They may wake up randomly one day and just know they want a wig. All you need to do is be there when that happens.
When they’re past the initial shock
Looking in the mirror and seeing something you’re not used to can leave a patient feeling overwhelmed, especially when they’re trying to deal with everything else going on with their health. It cements what they’re going through, rather than being specifically about their vanity. Try helping them feel beautiful in other ways before you approach the topic of wigs, perhaps starting with a manicure or something that isn’t related to their face and hair. It can take baby steps for someone to feel confident in their appearance again, so help the get there by starting small.
When they don’t feel the pressure
The last thing anyone wants to hear while they lose their hair is that “things could be worse” or that “their hair will grow back”, as it can make someone feel pressure to stop feeling sad, making them more upset. Undermining someone’s trauma may find your well meaning efforts ditched for the kind of support they need from others. It’s ok to be upset, so let your friend know that you’re there to lend an ear while they cry over their hair loss, as silly as they might think they seem. It can relieve some of the pressure and help them come around to the idea of a wig.
Listen for cues from your friend and remember that any time that they say is the time is the right time for them. When they’re ready, offer to drive and make a day of it. Wig shopping should be an enjoyable experience, but it won’t be until they’re ready for it.