nick cave, U2, hawks, life, death and life.

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(public post)

first, press play.

second, i posted this to facebook yesterday:

“life and death, it never stops. my sorrow and love and grief go out to nick cave and his family. with my own son due to appear in a matter of months, I already can’t fathom the idea of losing him.

and strangely enough I went down an insomniac Google-hole last night after seeing U2, who were phenomenal. I got to talk with bono for a bit after the show (he made me awww by putting his head on my belly and blessing the baby) and in the midst of a great discussion about the worlds greatest and classiest songwriter/performers (nick cave was name-checked, as was jacques brel) I mentioned i’d just seen the amy winehouse documentary, and bono sighed about the nature of hard-drug-lifestyle glorification cyclically stealing artists’ lives like clockwork. he mentioned michael hutchence.

I hadn’t thought about michael hutchence, or his suicide, in a while. I was quite an INXS fan in the 90s…along with nick cave…and U2…all such an influence on little songwriting-me.

so it was that I happened to go a-googling at 3 am and found myself reading about the sad sad circumstances and rabbit hole around his suicide (not to mention paula yates’ overdose, peaches geldoff’s overdose…what a tangle of sadness).

one thing that struck me: nick cave (an aussie) played “into my arms” at hutchence (an aussie)’s funeral and requested that no media record it.

damn. i love nick cave so much.

I hope the world and the media and his friends show him that same kind of grace as he goes what he has to do and takes the time he must take to grieve the unthinkable.



and something odd happened. there was a thread (that got deleted later, i think, by the original commenter) about how terrible my post was, because i was “in typical amanda palmer fashion, making this death all about me”. cue all sorts of nasty arguing and 100+ comments with people yelling at each other about how we can and cannot talk about death, and what i should and shouldn’t have said.

that in itself made me sad for all involved, but i also found it really interesting, especially since i’ve been in a vortex of grief about anthony, and watching all the people around me grieve in their various ways. our own social group of mourners, dealing with our own style.

and of course, when you’re dealing with death, and you see another death, you see you.

i have to be honest: when someone dies, sometimes it IS all about you. death turns us inwards. and though you also spend a lot of time feeling pain and anger that the dead aren’t there to feel ANYTHING, and you curse their non-existence, and you spend a lot of time looking at the pain of others and feeling their pain reflected in yours….a lot of what happens, especially as i look around my close friends and anthony’s family and the way we’re all dealing, is that death just becomes one big, giant mirror, reflecting us back at us.

poetically enough, the top comments of the thread were posted by people mourning their own losses – seeing nick’s son reflected and refracted through their own mirror of grief. and this brings us all together; this isn’t really narcissism, this isn’t really “hijacking” the death of another and making it “about you” – it’s seeing that we’re all connected, and that empathy comes from our shared experience of pain. it’s quite different.


the dead, they’re complete now. their lives have come and gone, they’re finite (in that old latin sense of “finite”, as in “perfect”, “completed”) they don’t have the luxury of self-reflection or narcissism. nick cave’s son will always be finished at 15, and anthony will always be done at 65.

we living, on the other hand, continue to feel all the feels. we continue to question, we continue to connect the dots and to scramble to make sense of why why why and how.

lo and behold i came across a relevant passage in the book i was reading this morning….before i dragged my preggo self out of bed. it’s “h is for hawk” by helen macdonald, who i discovered at the hay literary festival. it’s a stupendous memoir that connects her grief over her father’s death with a book she read as a child to her training of an impossible hawk, like a circle, drawing every metaphor together with incredible writing. super profound but cliche-free. highly recommended.

anyway: she’s getting to this point where she feels like she’s failing at training this hawk because she’s just too miserable as a human being, and the hawk knows what a useless human being she is, and she cannot escape her fate and failure….

…and all of a sudden, after days of failure, she breaks down and tells her friend Stuart that she’s been unable to cope with her father’s death, and that she’s stuck in a depression. later that day, the hawk finally does what she needs to hawk to do, and she’s overcome with elation:


‘You’ve hit her flying weight’, Stuart said approvingly. ‘A couple more days of this and we’ll get her flying free.” Of course he was right. I had miscalculated her flying weight for weeks. But the narcissism of the bereaved is very great. I thought the that the reason the hawk had flown to me was because I had confessed how bad things were. It had made me feel better – and it was this that had made me less offputting to my hawk. I must try to be happier, I told myself. For the hawk’s sake I must.


i love that….”The narcissism of the bereaved.”

i’m  watching us all go through it, in our own ways….me, paul, michael, nicolas, laura, ron, neil, nivi…everyone he touched….as we hold up the mirror of anthony’s death to our own faces to see what we can see, to see what we can make sense of. at least we all know we are not alone in our lostness.

anthony used to say to me that every pitfall, every tragedy, every suffering, every moment of stumbling and pain is also an opportunity for growth, for transformation.

that’s all we can hope for. to transform and not descend.


neil and i are headed up to maine with friends and family for a week of r&r.

i’ll be online here and there, i need to finally announce my patreon THING plans for the summer, i keep putting it off :)



p.s. “h is for hawk”:

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