An Empowered Hair Journey Through Loss and Grief.

I want to thank Courtney Luck for her bravery and fierceness and her beautiful sharing of words in this guest-post.

I’ve always changed my hair.

The first time I dyed my hair I was in 8th grade.  I’d begged my mom and she allowed me for my 13th birthday to dye my hair flaming red.  From then on, it was a free for all.  Short, long, purple, blonde, green, brunette; you name it I did it. I really didn’t think there was a rhyme or reason to my hair urges and needs.  I just went for it.  Or so I thought.

It wasn’t until my husband died suddenly in March of 2011 that I actually became keenly aware of how my hair changed with different emotions and changes happening in my life.  When I stumbled upon How-to Hair Girl in June 2015 I really resonated with the words “stuck in hair, stuck in life”.  Reading that was like a word arrow shot straight into me.

IMG_9511Before my husband died, I was floating through life.  I wasn’t a good observer of myself.  When I lost him, I lost everything.  Allowing myself to be in the unknowing was a huge learning experience; getting to know and understand myself, my thoughts, feelings, and motivations. This is where my hair story begins.


About 9 months before my husband died, we decided we were finally ready to have a baby. This is something I had wanted my entire life (and still do).  I immediately went to the salon and had my stylist dye my hair to as close to my natural color as possible. I didn’t want to worry about chemicals when I got pregnant.

I was a week late on the day that my husband, TJ, died.  And it wasn’t until another 2 weeks had passed that I brought myself to take a pregnancy test.  I couldn’t even begin to think about that would mean to me if I were pregnant and yet I had to know.

I bought a test and told my mother “if you hear a big thud in the morning, it’s me fainting if this thing is positive”.  The next morning it showed up with a line and a half.  What the hell does that even mean?

I went to the doctor to get a blood test instead.  I wasn’t going to keep peeing on a stick and hoping it was wrong.  The blood test confirmed that I was not pregnant. Loss number two.  Not only had my husband died, my dream of having his child died, too.

Three months later my husband’s uncle, who was more of an uncle to me than any of my own, died suddenly.  His funeral was a real setback.  I felt totally smothered by the condolences and attention from wellwishers wondering if I was okay with all this loss, even though it was coming from a place of love and concern.

Stranger to Myself

IMG_9218During this time, when I looked in the mirror in the morning I didn’t recognize the woman looking back at me.  Her skin was greyish in color, her eyes were so sad with dark circles, and her hair was matte brown with no lustre.  I needed a pick me up, big time.

It was around that time that the ladies I worked with at the interior design firm had pooled together to buy me a gift card to a spa in town.  The day I received the gift I knew I would be using it for hair only.  I decided to start slow with some highlights.  Simple enough and a still a nice change.

The night before I was due to go back to work I had a complete breakdown.  I cried and shook and couldn’t even begin to speak.  Both of my parents laid in bed on either side of me and held me.  The numbness that I’d been experiencing was turned off like a light switch.

In the morning, my mother called my boss and let him know that I wasn’t going to be able to come back to work just yet.  I realized that the only way forward was to make a clean break from everything old in my life.

After I quit my job, new hair was once again in order….This time a short angled bob dyed platinum blonde.

Several months passed as I went from platinum blonde to red, to brown, then back to blonde.  Nothing really stuck around for long and nothing seemed right yet.  I still didn’t feel like myself.

Seeking a Different Path

IMG_9203I began to travel with the little money I had left from TJ’s life insurance.  I went to Oregon to house sit and pet sit for a friend in January…….I arrived with chin length hair colored brown with blonde highlights.  Eugene felt like my safe haven.  It’d been 9 months since TJ had died. With his one year anniversary approaching it was a life saver to be out of town.  And not just out of town but across the country.

I spent my days reading books, walking their beautiful wolf dog, Lucius, and snuggling with their sweet kitty Scallop. I was finally feeling more like myself because I was able to be alone, thousands of miles away from home, and I actually felt happy.

It was a total miracle to feel happy, even a little bit. When my friends returned from their trip, we spent an extra week together before I was to leave for home. I didn’t want to go.  I was happy, I felt content.  And going home meant that his anniversary was in just 2 weeks.

Life-Changing DIY Hair Cutcomic

As my friend and I sat at her adorable kitchen table sipping tea, I looked at her and said “I think I want to cut my hair.” She beamed and shouted “Let’s do it right now.

We had a hair cutting party in her bathroom that instant.  She put my hair into a bunch of little pony tails and started to cut them one by one.  She was being conservative and I was feeling impatient so I asked for the scissors and said “I’m just going to hack at it”!  I felt totally giddy and crazed.

I chopped my hair in the front first into little tiny short baby bangs.  Then began to grab the sides and cut into it mercilessly and haphazardly.  It was glorious!  My friend offered to cut the back for me because I couldn’t see what I was doing.

The finished product was exactly what I wanted.  A total mess!  No continuity, no blending.  This was the first time that my hair felt like I did.  My feelings on the inside were finally represented on the outside.  No salon necessary.

A New Direction

As my favorite haircut ever began to grow out I was preparing to enter grad school to become an acupuncturist.  This was a big fucking deal.  This was the first decision I had made, since TJ’s passing, that actually started me on a new path.

Everything I’d done since his death was kind of like a holding pattern of sorts.  This was taking a step.  A big one.  I felt it only right to chop my hair off again, only leaving the strands about 5″ long on top and even shorter on the sides.

Over the years of schooling I let my natural color grow out, which happened to be this lovely mix of brown, auburn, and gold with a smattering of greys.  And here I’d spent all this time covering that up!

I let my hair grow past my shoulders, which is the longest it’s been since I was 12 years old.  As the end of my program and clinicals drew near, I was itching to do something to my hair to mark the transition.  I didn’t know what to do.  I didn’t want to cut it.  I most certainly didn’t want to dye it all over and mess up all the hard work of growing out my natural color.

This felt similar to being in Oregon only magnified.  I was the happiest I’d ever been, even when my husband was still live.  Which is really hard to say.  Before he died, he was the only good thing I had going.  I was miserable otherwise.  And now I had found my calling.

I had grieved hard and true, I had cried and pushed and succeeded at finding my passion through acupuncture.  I had created this incredible life for myself that I was so proud of.  What could possibly help me to reflect my inner excitement onto my outward appearance?

Ringing the Bell

soul garden acupuncture hairPink Hair.  Hot hot pink Hair. I had the ends done right before my bell ringing ceremony. Because each student completes clinic at their own pace there is not a graduation ceremony.  Instead, there is a big beautiful copper bell outside of the building facing the forest.  You invite your beloveds and you ring the bell 3 times.

Once for your ancestors and all of those healers who came before you, once for the future generations that your work and healing will serve, and once for yourself– for the holy particular that you are and for all you have accomplished to bring you to that exact moment.

The joy I felt ringing that bell with hot pink hair was unmatched.  I’d done the work, I’d made the changes, and now I was ready to embark on my new, exciting, glorious path as healer.


I am grateful for this journey.  And I never thought that I would be able to use my hair as a mile marker.  What a great discovery!  My hair reflects the path I have walked to get to where I am today and leaves me curiously excited to see what hair wonders will unfold as my journey continues.  I am thankful for sparking this connection within me about how hair and grief most certainly go together.  And not just hair and grief, hair and LIFE

With Gratitude, Courtney

Courtney Luck is a Five Element, Maryland state licensed acupuncturist and received her Masters of Acupuncture at the Maryland University of Integrative Health in 2015.  She opened her private practice, Soul Garden Acupuncture, on Nov 3, 2015 in the heart of downtown Frederick, MD.  Courtney has experience treating symptoms related to grief, anxiety, PTSD, back pain, knee pain, bowel disorders, respiratory disorders, immune disorders, and women’s health, to name just a few.  She has patients of all ages and all backgrounds and is passionate about bringing holistic healing to one and all.

Find her on the web:

Instagram: soulgardenacupuncture

Personal blog on grief:

(This is the specific post with our hair cutting party.  Julia is amazing- based in Eugene and travels often to Paris and NYC doing her shows)


Dreads: A marriage of hair.

7U6A1234 7U6A1325 7U6A1351 7U6A1352 7U6A1283 7U6A1311Hey babes. Here are some photos of some lovely friends of ours who came to visit. They both have incredibly long dread locks, and I had a fun time shooting photos of them with their dreads all intertwined and wild. IT was a marriage of hair. More on dreads, coming soon.

xoxo, HTHG

Before you make that major hair change……

Screen Shot 2015-01-19 at 7.41.57 PM Uninspired by your own hair and lusting after those cute messy bobs you keep seeing around? We’ve all been there, right? Stuck in hair — and stuck in life. When your hair doesn’t feel right, nothing seems to go well. Something tells you that it’s time for a major change……

Read more thoughts on when to make that major hair change on R29.

(photo courtesy of Refinery29)

xoxo, HTHG

Erika’s golden wave, tie and cardy style.

erika 1988Last night, I checked my email one last time before bed, to find this amazing picture of my dudes sort-of brother’s cool wife Erika, who decided to share a taste of her 7th grade stylishness with us.

Yes, our family is nebulous, and yes ties and cardys are bitchin, especially with a haircut like this, with slicked back sides and a wave in the front. Here is what Erika said about her look.

“Here’s my school pic from around, I think, 1988.  Maybe 7th grade?  I was going through a “tie phase.”  I wore a lot of ties that year.  😉  This pic features a tie my dad wore in the 60’s.  The vest & shirt I believe belonged to my ste​pmom in the 70’s that she gave to me, & the cardy was all new, all mine.  Hope this pic fits your bill!”

Then, she signed off. 5 Minutes later she followed up with this….

“Thought I should mention, I think I look awesome in this pic & am totally not embarrassed by it.  ;)”

Which made the whole thing even way cooler. Thanks Erika for being so cool and sharing this jewel with us!

If you are reading this, and have a hair story, hair transformation, or great hair pics from old family albums, please consider submitting them to HTHG. All submissions can go to, and will be published for the sake of shear awesomeness and inspiration to others. Or maybe a hearty giggle, or the courage to make that big hair move.

xo, HTHG

Kerri goes big by cutting her crazy thick long hair into a chic boxie.

IMG_5926Kerri went from insanely thick long pretty hair to a shorter textured bob, working her way towards the chicest ‘boxie’ around. I am honored to say that I got to be a part of her hair journey, cutting her hair many times, and advising her to DIY her color instead of paying me to do it. (Some color is just so simple to DIY, It is not worth paying for unless you really like to pay someone else. DIY is not for everyone, but it is definitely for some people.)


picstitchHer dark cool brown hair looked better and better the shorter it got, and she came and saw me one last time the day she moved out of town, headed for a lovely-sounding life with her hubby and son in the great mid west. Kerri, we salute your foxiness and bravery with your hair, and hope to god you can find a great stylist in your town who will do justice to your amazing head of hair;)

Kerri says about her hair……”Life is great here—still hunting for a good stylist, tho—so the trimming has been done by yours truly. lol. Tips on making a big hair move?  Keep it simple and if doing a major cut, go gradual.  I feel like my hair adjusted well as I periodically cut it shorter and shorter. I also use a good pomade from Onesta and wash my hair only twice per week. I truly have loved my hair at all lengths, but finding a great stylist is a must for big cuts!”

If you are reading this, and have a hair story, hair transformation, or great hair pics from old family albums, please consider submitting them to HTHG. All submissions can go to, and will be published for the sake of shear awesomeness and inspiration to others. Or maybe a hearty giggle, or the courage to make that big hair move.

xoxo, HTHG


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