Nick Cave has used the latest entry to his Red Hand Files website to discuss how grief became “a way of life” for him.
Cave’s comments were made in response to a pair of fans who described how his previous albums with the Bad Seeds have given them solace, before asking how he manages to create music and find peace in the face of devastation.
“Susie and I have learned much about the nature of grief over recent years,” Cave began, referring to the passing of his 15-year-old son Arthur in 2015. “We have come to see that grief is not something you pass through, as there is no other side.
“For us, grief became a way of life, an approach to living, where we learned to yield to the uncertainty of the world, whilst maintaining a stance of defiance to its indifference. We surrendered to something over which we had no control, but which we refused to take lying down.
“Grief became both an act of submission and of resistance — a place of acute vulnerability where, over time, we developed a heightened sense of the brittleness of existence. Eventually, this awareness of life’s fragility led us back to the world, transformed.
“We discovered that grief was much more than just despair. We found grief contained many things — happiness, empathy, commonality, sorrow, fury, joy, forgiveness, combativeness, gratitude, awe, and even a certain peace. For us, grief became an attitude, a belief system, a doctrine — a conscious inhabiting of our vulnerable selves, protected and enriched by the absence of the one we loved and that we lost.”
As he continues, Cave explains how grief is found in all facets of life, whether it’s in simple pleasures such as “watching Netflix, [or] reading a book”, or even in the most mundane of tasks.
“Grief is all things reimagined through the ever emerging wounds of the world,” he explains. “It revealed to us that we had no control over events, and as we confronted our powerlessness, we came to see this powerlessness as a kind of spiritual freedom.
“Susie’s grief has become part of her chemistry, it moves through her bloodstream like a force, and though she often inhabits the liminal space at the edge of dreams, she remains strong in her powerlessness and obstinately awed by the workings of the world.”