Four Seasons: Reflections on the Loss of Hayden Kennedy and Inge Perkins

Jason Asleson

"The deeper sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain." -Kahlil Gibran

The beauty of golden leaves falling quietly against the backdrop of the Autumn sky gave me chills today. Almost simultaneously, I choked on some tears as I pedaled my bike up the hill. For a moment, I wasn't certain where the disparate emotion was coming from, but I let it breathe. I kept pedaling and let the flame grow enough for me to trace the emotion back to the spark. It was clear that the sadness was triggered by the tragic loss of Hayden Kennedy and Inge Perkins. The tributes to their lives have been beautiful to read. While I didn’t know either of them, the death of these vibrant souls and the expression of emotions from those close to them hit me deep inside. The loss of Hayden and Inge are not mine to mourn, but I can't help but feel deep empathy for their families and friends. 

I lost a girlfriend to suicide about two and a half years ago. I suppose it's natural to have a tragedy like this trigger my emotions. I'm happy that it did. The polar emotions that I felt on the bike today highlighted the fact that we can't selectively numb. We're either open and vulnerable to our emotions or we're not. That means feeling all of our emotions, joy as well as sadness. Our culture emphasizes the importance of pursuing happiness. So much so that one almost feels ashamed to admit to themselves, let alone others, that they feel something other than stoked all of the time. As though feeling sad or anxious are a sign of a weakness in our character. 

The loss of Hayden and Inge have brought sadness to the outdoor community. My heart goes out to those left behind and also those who can identify with the feelings of loss that accompany such tragedies. I was reminded today that "closure" is not the primary endpoint for such grief. That "goal" seems to set us up for failure that culminates in more shame, lack of vulnerability, and a perpetual cycle of numbness. I will always feel sad when I consider the loss of my friend, but I will also feel gratitude for the time we spent together. Thank you to all of those brave enough to share your grief. 

"The deeper sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain." -Kahlil Gibran

Published: October 12, 2017

Jason Asleson

Trail-junkie; Full-time van dweller and clinical pharmacist based in Park City, Utah.

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