To Absent Friends, the people’s festival of storytelling and remembrance, returns from 1 – 7 November, and is looking for people and organisations from across Scotland to join in.
The festival, started in 2014, gives people across Scotland the opportunity to remember loved ones who have died, through stories, celebrations and acts of reminiscence.
It is easy to get involved in any way you like. The festival website, www.toabsentfriends.org.uk, offers plenty of suggestions, from small private acts of reminiscence to larger events in which communities can come together to celebrate the lives of those who have died.
People can hold a To Absent Friends supper, a simple gathering of friends or family over food to remember and tell stories of people who have died. Alternatively, people can start a To Absent Friends wall at their workplace or community venue. All it needs is some triangles of coloured paper, some pens and an empty noticeboard. People write a tribute to an absent friend and pin it up, until the wall is filled with memories.
Other groups choose an activity more suited to them. Events already planned for this year include street parties, jazz evenings, coffee mornings, even a barber shop concert with an absent friends theme.
Many people choose to hold their own private acts of remembrance as well, and the festival provides an opportunity for people to share their tributes on the online Wall of Remembrance, and their songs on the Remembrance Playlist. People can visit the site at any time to write a message.
November has long been associated with remembrance of the dead, through traditions like Samhain and All Souls’ Day. To Absent Friends is reviving those lost traditions and helping to create new ones, as a way to support active remembrance of dead people. Talking openly about someone who is dead can often cause discomfort or embarrassment, but To Absent Friends wants to change that.
“Just because someone has died doesn’t mean they are not a part of our lives any more,” says Robert Peacock of Good Life, Good Death, Good Grief, the alliance of organisations behind the festival. “They are there in our stories and memories. The festival gives people time and space to remember those people – whether it’s just raising a glass, or something more formal. In this day and age, we don’t often stop and do that.”
“To Absent Friends has really captured people’s imaginations since we started it in 2014. There have been some very poignant and moving events, as well as many lighter moments shared.”
The festival welcomes anyone who wants to do something – whether it is a large event or a small personal remembrance – as part of the festival.
To Absent Friends will take place across Scotland from 1 – 7 November 2017.