A Time to Remember Absent Friends

Organisations across Edinburgh will be gathering together this week to remember loved ones who have died, as part of a Scotland-wide festival of storytelling and remembrance called To Absent Friends.

The festival started in 2014, giving people an opportunity to celebrate the lives and memories of those who have died, through stories, celebrations and acts of reminiscence and is supported by Good Life, Good Death, Good Grief, a collective of individuals and organisations working to make Scotland a place where there is more openness about death, dying and bereavement established by the Scottish Partnership for Palliative Care.

Events in store in Edinburgh this year include a concert by the Edinburgh Brass Band, an organ recital by city organist John Kitchen, a poetry evening hosted by Poetry Circus, and a public To Absent Friends supper at Broughton St. Mary’s Church where people can share stories over a simple three course meal.

Many community organisations are hosting their own private acts of remembrance forTo Absent Friends. Among them are the Eric Liddell Centre in Morningside who will light candles and share memories over a special afternoon tea on 2 November, which will also see them create a lasting framed memorial dedicated to absent friends.

Meanwhile, the Broomhouse Centre will be remembering their absent friends by creating a “tree of life” tied with notes dedicated to the memory of loved ones. The Centre’s dementia day care service, The Beacon Club will be sharing tales of their absent friends with a storyteller and musical session.

Also, at the Hibernian v Dundee match at Easter Road on Saturday fans will be invited to leave personal tributes on the club’s To Absent Friends wall.

Robert Peacock of Good Life, Good Death, Good Grief, the alliance of organisations behind the festival, says, “Talking openly about someone who is dead can often cause discomfort or embarrassment. To Absent Friends wants to change that. We want people to have time and space to acknowledge those who have been important to them. People can often find comfort and meaning from being able to share those stories. We’re very glad that so many community groups in Edinburgh have decided to take part…It could be something as simple as raising a glass and proposing a toast, or gathering friends and family together over old photo albums.”

The festival website, www.toabsentfriends.org.uk, has plenty of suggestions of ways to participate. There are plenty of online activities for the week too. People are invited to change their social media profile pictures to someone who has died, with a story and the hashtag #ToAbsentFriends. People can also share their tributes on the online Wall of Remembrance, and their songs on the Remembrance Playlist, both of which can be found on the To Absent Friends website.

robert.peacock@palliativecarescotland.org.uk or call 0131 272 2735

1 – 7 November 2017