When Arthur Cave (son of Nick Cave and Susie Bick) fell from a cliff in East Sussex and died, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I couldn’t stop feeling about it. Clearly this was none of my business. It felt ghoulish to read about it or look at pictures of their family. For days, it was a cloud over me, the thought of him lying there, waiting to be found, the thought of what his parents were going to go through.
Being intimate with the shattering grief of losing a child, you shudder at the thought of others having to face it.
More than a week later, at the gym, with trance music pouring through my headphones, the part of my mind that had been preoccupied with Arthur Cave shoved its way to the front, demanding to be examined. I was tired of avoiding this dangerous train of thought, but still needed to keep it from opening up my own well of grief right there in a noisy gym.
And with no explanation beyond the need to maintain some kind of calm, I began to visualize Ashlie there with Arthur, arriving just after he fell, holding out a hand and helping his spirit to its feet. I imagined her working to distract him from the broken body on the ground, refusing to let him stop and think long enough to be afraid.
On the elliptical, with my eyes closed, I worked to see Ashlie and Arthur running back up to the cliffs hand in hand and jumping off, but this time flying. Laughing. Fearless. And it begins to block out the horror of his death. It begins to lift the cloud.
I cannot change what happened to my child or theirs, but I can change how the bereavement of others affects me – able now to imagine (when I need to, because public grief is forbidden) my own dead child leading a merry band of spirit children on grand adventures around the world.
Take care of Arthur, I tell her, and I can breathe again.