In another entry in Nick Cave’s Red Hand Files, the Ghosteen singer has offered advice on grief to a fan whose mother was sadly murdered. Nick Cave connected with the fan over “the pure and holy anger” of grief.
Nick Cave has been nurturing a wonderful new movement of late. The Australian singer has been using his Red Hand Files, a feature that sees Cave answer fan’s letters, to create a community of openness and tolerance. Something which was compounded in his social listening party of his most recent record Ghosteen.
The album is very much an outpouring of emotion and grief that Cave suffered following the death of his 15-year-old son Arthur in 2015. This is where cave connects with the recent letter from fan Hannah. In the letter, Hannah explained that her mother had been killed by a white supremacist in an attack on a synagogue. She asks Cave for advice on how to cope with grief.
Cave has always tried to be as open and honest about his experiences as possible and this issue was no different. In his response, Cave spoke of his and his wife, Susie Bick’s, utter grief at losing their teenage son. Cave wrote: “The tragedy of my son’s death is inscribed into the collective consciousness of the town where we live and where he died. I have had to learn to share the reality of his passing with the town itself, because it affected us all.”
He continued: “I doubt there was a mother in Brighton who did not feel a chill of horror and cling to her own children a little tighter upon hearing the news of Arthur’s senseless accident. But Arthur was our child, our own flesh and blood; Susie and I didn’t want to share him with anyone, and we were deeply possessive over his absence.
“It took us some time to understand that, while he belonged to us, he belonged to the world too. In time, we understood that, although we were the ultimate custodians of Arthur’s memory, he was in fact mourned by many and many people felt outraged at the cruelty and randomness of the event, just as we did. Susie and I, individually and together had to find a way to be with Arthur, but also to share him with a multitude.”
Speaking specifically of Hannah’s grief, Cave wrote: “It feels to me that the meaning exists within the anger. Not only is your anger justified, it is compassionate and essential and, as you said, connects you to your mother, even as those around you take possession of her, eclipsing your feelings with their own needs. The righteous energy of your anger is the flaming sword you hold above your mother’s memory. It may be the very thing that protects her, shielding her from the suffocating demands of the world. Perhaps, at this time, your anger is a way of safekeeping the spirit of your mother, of caring for her, of seeking her, of calling her to you. It is a pure and holy anger.” Cave then going on to describe how he and Bick have now found their own personal space to grieve for Arthur.
Concluding, Cave was warm and kind, offering a place of hope, of light, for Hannah to aim for, “But there is another place too, a quieter place that patiently awaits you, and maybe in time you will find a moment to temporarily lay down the sword and, speaking into the sacred silence, talk to your mother, in grief, in longing, and in her presence, and perhaps find some solace there. I very much hope so.”