What the songwriter Nick Cave can teach us all about grief

Nick Cave is an artist whose music I admire.

I am, as a writer, always drawn to the narrative of his storytelling lyrics.

But, after the tragic death of his son, Arthur, in an accident, Cave has also become something of a reluctant spokesperson for all of us who have lost someone close.

I’ve started a new freelance role as a civil celebrant, having done my first funeral ceremonies over the autumn.

It’s early days but I’m learning how best to work with the families I meet — how to demonstrate my sympathy and empathy while also doing a professional job.

My role is ultimately, after all, to write and present a script that celebrates the unique life of the individual.

But the people I meet are grieving, struggling often to make sense of the tidal wave events engulfing them. It’s easy, flippant almost, to offer words of hope but hope is exactly is exactly what they need.

Nick Cave found le most juste this week, writing on his website, The Red Hand Files.

Talking about his struggle with grief after Arthur’s death, he describes how:

“I closed my eyes and imagined lifting him from my heart — this tormented place in which I was told he lived — and I positioned him outside of my body, next to me, beside me.”

Cave describes how he found comfort in a simple visualisation:

” …perhaps there is a way to summon and release them from your despair so that they can attend to you — allow them to become your spiritual companions in that impossible realm, to look after you in their imagined presence, and guide you forward until things get better.”

It takes time for someone to reach the stage of grief whereby they can even consider releasing a lost loved one from the maelstrom of their heart. But it will come.

As Cave says: “I felt increasingly empowered, as I allowed him to accompany me from my boundless grief.”

One of the most rewarding aspects of my role is help to move that process forward by finding the right words of comfort and closure when words often fail.

That’s why I’m here.

Read more at The Red Hand Files.

  • I’m available for civil ceremonies in the Chester, Northwest England and North Wales region. Contact me for details.

 

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