A tragic loss for our community October 30, 2022
I have the incredibly sad responsibility to inform you of the loss of one of our students over the weekend.
More than 150 people died this weekend — and dozens more were injured — as a crowd of some 100,000 people came together during a popular, traditional Halloween gathering in Seoul, South Korea. The crowd apparently surged at some point into a crush of people. Details of what happened and why are still unfolding.
But one of our students, Anne Gieske, was among them.
Anne, a nursing junior from Northern Kentucky, was studying in South Korea this semester with an education abroad program. We have two other students and a faculty member there this semester as well. They have been contacted and are safe.
We have been in contact with Anne’s family and will provide whatever support we can — now and in the days ahead — as they cope with this indescribable loss.
We will be there for those in our community who knew and loved Anne. We also have nearly 80 students from South Korea at UK — members of our community — who will need our support.
And we know this loss may create feelings of grief and anxiety for many others. We are there for you, too. A range of resources is readily available online or by phone. You can learn more about those resources and access them here: https://studentsuccess.uky.edu/get-help. If you need to talk with a mental health clinician after business hours or on the weekend, during holidays or during university closings, you can call 859-257-8701, select option #1 and you will be connected to a clinician.
There aren’t adequate or appropriate words to describe the pain of a beautiful life cut short. It isn’t fair, nor is it comprehensible. It is loss and it hurts in ways that are impossible to articulate.
In the fullness of time, it is easy to say that we know that life is fragile. It is. One moment we are celebrating, engaging with friends, experiencing new things — all those wondrous events, small and large, that make our shared humanity so special and memorable.
The next moment, one of those lives among us, unique and precious, can be gone, without reason or rationale. It can happen at any time and, certainly, in any place.
But life and being able to share it with others is a blessing as well. And I only know that moments like these should give us pause to hold those we love a little tighter and cherish those we care for a little more.
As a community, it is a sacred responsibility we must keep — to be there for each other in moments of sheer joy and in those of deepest sadness.
That is what compassionate communities do. And that is what, I know, we are — now and in all the days ahead.