Now in its fifth year, To Absent Friends is part of a Scotland-wide festival of storytelling and remembrance, where organisations come together to remember loved ones who have died. Through stories, celebrations and acts of reminiscence, the Festival gives people an opportunity to celebrate their lives and memories.
To Absent Friends is supported by Good Life, Good Death, Good Grief, a collective of individuals and organisations established by the Scottish Partnership for Palliative Care that works to make Scotland a place where there is more openness about death, dying and bereavement.
Among the many community organisations hosting their own private acts of remembrance for To Absent Friends are North Edinburgh Arts, who will be holding a whole week of activity, including lantern making sessions, a social supper, and an exhibition called Inheritance Tracks, based on people’s musical memories of those who have died.
Elsewhere in the city, the Broomhouse Centre will be remembering their absent friends by creating a ‘tree of remembrance’ in their café, and the Centre’s dementia day care service, The Beacon Club, will be sharing tales of their absent friends with a storyteller and musical session.
Hibernian Football Club will be remembering Absent Friends at the St Johnstone match at Easter Road on Saturday 3 November when fans will be invited to leave personal tributes on the club’s To Absent Friends wall.
Other Edinburgh events this year include concerts by the Edinburgh Brass Band, Edinburgh Singers and Vox Coelestis, an organ recital by city organist John Kitchen, a poetry evening hosted by Poetry Circus, and a remembrance café held at the Scottish Poetry Library.
Lara Celini, who has her own personal story of loss to tell, and is one of the people organising an event for To Absent Friends, is holding a community ceilidh and the reminiscence café in Willowbrae.
Robert Peacock of Good Life, Good Death, Good Grief, says, “Most people have lost someone dear to them, but they live on in our stories and memories. … We want people to stop and take some time to share those stories – whether it’s just raising a glass, getting the old photo albums out, or something more formal. We’re very glad that so many different organisations have chosen to mark the event.”
The whole festival kicks off on Thursday 1 November at 3pm with a launch event at the Living Memory Association’s Reminiscence Room in Ocean Terminal, that holds a treasure trove of photos and memorabilia from bygone days, collected to keep memories and stories alive.
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 at www.toabsentfriends.org.uk.
To Absent Friends will take place across Scotland from 1 – 7 November 2018.