Sara Verkuilen received an anonymous letter from a previous customer which moved her deeply. He explained that she had made his wife feel incredibly special during her last days.
A husband was deeply moved to write to his wife's hairdresser after she passed away due to dementia. While in quarantine, it was difficult for her to find things to feel joy doing. The last time she could actually get her hair done was in December. Right before the national lockdowns set in, the husband and wife took a trip to Sara Verkuilen's hair salon. The man recently reflected on his wife's experience at the salon and realized that it was quite possibly "one of the last, best moments of her life." Therefore, he decided to let Sara know with a moving letter.
The hairstylist found the letter when she went in to work one day. It read, "This is a little bit awkward. But I’ve waited a really long time to pass this on to you. My wife and I came in for haircuts shortly before Christmas of last year. My wife was suffering from dementia, and you treated her as if you’d been working with dementia patients all your life. You let us sit next to each other, and when it came time for her cut you turned her chair towards me so I could watch her expression as you cut her hair. It turned out even better than I thought it would. Sadly, she died in March. And that haircut was one of the last, best moments of her life. She felt so pretty. She visited the mirror in her bathroom several times during the day and would come out beaming. To see her so happy was priceless."
It was incredibly heartwarming to read about how a little thing like a haircut could change someone's mood so drastically. The husband concluded, "Looking back, it was likely one of [the] dozens of haircuts you gave that day. But one which revitalized a woman’s sense of self and her singular beauty. I hope you always realize the power of your profession. It’s so easy to take things like that for granted." The story may not have had the happy ending we were looking for, but the letter made Sara's day. She posted it to Facebook with the following caption: "This is why I love what I do. Thank you for this letter." The customer's husband remained anonymous, but his moving story has been widely shared on the internet.
According to Sara, she actually doesn't have any formal experience working with customers diagnosed with dementia. "I have no experience with dementia whatsoever," she said in an interview. "I just try to treat everyone that sits in my chair with basic human respect. My advice for other stylists would be to just treat them as you would any other client. Sometimes things take a little longer and it’s tough in our career because time is money but hairstylists are a special breed of people. We often do it for passion more than the money." Unfortunately, the pandemic did have an impact on her job. She shared, "I was out of work due to [the pandemic] for a few months. The company I work for went bankrupt and almost closed my salon forever so it was a wild rollercoaster of emotions."
However, things worked out for her: "Luckily I had a family friend take me into her salon for a few weeks until my salon opened back up. I was also able to get unemployment before that. Overall it hasn’t had too much of a negative effect on my life thus far." Sara said she recalls the couple that came in right before the lockdown set in. She remembered the husband and wife fondly. "I remember just how sweet they were together," she explained. "He was a very loving doting husband. They were adorable."