A festival of storytelling and remembrance To Absent Friends

To Absent Friends is a festival of storytelling and remembrance that takes place from 1 to 7 November and invites people across Scotland to take time out to remember friends and family that have died.

The festival, which ran for the first time in 2014, aims to revive ancient traditions of remembering the dead at this time of year, as a way to support those who are experiencing grief and bereavement and to encourage greater openness about death and dying.

Public events are planned, including a concert by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra   at their new home at Glasgow Royal Concert Hall on 29 October, and an event at the Scottish International Storytelling Festival   in Edinburgh on 1 November.

Taking part

A major part of To Absent Friends is the opportunity for individuals and groups to offer their own personal reminiscences, either privately or by sharing with others.

Marie Curie's own Marie Curie Hospice, Edinburgh Bereavement Support Team are hosting an informal evening   for To Absent Friends on 4 November. Storytellers and poets will help people to celebrate and share their stories about loved ones who have died.  Invitations have been sent to the relatives of patients who had been supported by the Marie Curie hospice and who died approximately 12 months ago.

Samhain Suppers   are another way people are getting involved. Based on the ancient Celtic tradition of Samhain (pronounced “sow-inn”), the idea is for people to gather together for dinner, share stories and photos of absent friends, maybe even raise a toast, in the manner of Burns' Suppers.

Other ways in which people can participate include starting a To Absent Friends wall at work, in a foyer or a staff room so that people can post tributes. It may even be something as simple as lighting a candle for someone. A full list of ideas is on the To Absent Friends website  .

Online activities

The website also has spaces for people to leave tributes online. Suggestions are invited for a Remembrance Playlist   which is being compiled of songs which remind people of their late loved ones. Remembering The Greats   invites people to pay tribute to stalwarts of their local football or rugby club. There's also space to leave a short, anonymous message on the online Wall of Remembrance  

The festival forms part of a year round initiative called Good Life Good Death Good Grief  , led by the Scottish Partnership for Palliative Care   of which Marie Curie is a member organisation.

The team at To Absent Friends would love to hear from you if you are planning to hold an event or have an act of remembrance. For more details about To Absent Friends, see the website   or contact me on robert.peacock@palliativecarescotland.org.uk