Nick Cave tells of the ‘pure and holy anger’ of grief in message to fan whose mother was murdered

Cave tries to comfort a fan whose mother was murdered.

Nick Cave has written a moving message to a fan whose mother was murdered, telling her of his own experiences of “the pure and holy anger” of grief.

In his regular question-and-answer interaction site The Red Hand Files, Cave was asked by fan Hannah for his advice about how to cope with grief. Hannah explained how her mother had been killed by a white supremacist in an attack on a synagogue.

Cave has spoken before about the grief he and his wife Susie Bick suffered after their son Arthur died aged 15 in 2015, when he fell from a cliff near the family’s home in Brighton.


Answering Hannah, 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.”

Cave 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.”

Cave went on to describe how he and Susie were eventually able to find their own secluded grief for Arthur, where they felt able to have a “necessary and ongoing conversation” with him.


Addressing 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 concluded: “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.”

Previous editions of Cave’s Red Hand Files have seen him discussing the tragic passing of his son, as well as providing advice on body positivity for a 16-year-old fan. 

Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds recently released new album ‘Ghosteen’, which received a five-star review in NME. 

He has also announced details of his upcoming illustrated autobiography and a new exhibition.