A new Scottish festival encourages people to remember absent friends

by Rebecca Patterson
Policy & Communications Manager, Scottish Partnership for Palliative Care

Rebecca Patterson, Policy & Communications Manager, Scottish Partnership for Palliative Care Next month, Scotland welcomes an important new addition to its cultural calendar – To Absent Friends, a people’s festival of storytelling and remembrance.

Taking place from 1 to 7 November, To Absent Friends will give people across Scotland the opportunity to remember, tell stories about and celebrate people they love who have died.

The festival is the brainchild of Good Life, Good Death, Good Grief, an organisation established by the Scottish Partnership for Palliative Care to help make Scotland a place where there is more openness about death, dying and bereavement.

The organisers hope that a nationwide festival showing it's ok to talk about loved ones who have died might make it a little easier for recently bereaved people all year round. And maybe if more of us can get some practice acknowledging and talking about our own losses (nearly everyone has them), we’ll all find it a little easier to offer informal support to others.

What's on

The To Absent Friends website encourages people to “organise something big or small, celebratory or reflective, share it or keep it private.” As well as some high-profile events such as a concert by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra Quartet and a photography exhibition by Colin Gray, the festival will feature a range of smaller activities, including a ‘musical memories’ afternoon for care home residents  and a ‘mothers remembering mothers’ afternoon tea.

Wall of remembrance

The To Absent Friends website is warm and inviting, and full of unobtrusive suggestions of how individuals and communities may want to mark absent friends. But for me, its greatest feature is the wall of remembrance, where people share short tributes to dead loved ones. Since the website launched in June, the wall has slowly filled with a steady trickle of the most beautiful memories and warmest thoughts, together forming an uplifting and moving tribute to humanity.

Visit www.toabsentfriends.org.uk to see all the tributes and find out more about the festival.

Marie Curie is taking part in To Absent Friends as part of our Delivering Choice programme in Argyll and Bute. Across the region, groups and individuals are being encouraged to organise their own events or take part.