COVID-19 has changed the ways we are able to share stories and solace, so the 2020 festival looked different from in previous years. Communities found new ways to come together - gatherings were smaller and more distanced, and more took place online. In these difficult times, the To Absent Friends Festival remained a valued opportunity for sharing memories and human connection.
Tuesday 3 November, St Mary's For All, Hamilton.
St Mary’s For All are holding a socially distanced open afternoon with tea/coffee, sandwiches and cake. People can bring stories and pictures of people who have died, and have the opportunity to share their memories with others in a welcoming environment. To create an enduring reminder, a tree of memories will be built with words to lost loved ones.
7pm, 4 November, Dundee
Funeral Link and are working in partnership with Faith in Community Dundee to create 'Dundee Remembers'. The event aims to help local people in Dundee to feel connected through candlelight creating a wave of remembrance by the simple act of lighting a candle at the same time as everyone else in memory of those who have died but are still very much loved and missed.
Candles will be distributed in advance, along with a message of togetherness, and people will ‘gather together apart’ lighting candles at 7pm on Wed 4 November remembering those lost, knowing we are not alone but we are connected to others across our city.
4 November, 7pm-9.30pm, an online event run by Mankind project men of Edinburgh.
Mankind Edinburgh will bring together a Grief Tending Circle, and together participants will give their attention to the many layers of grief in their lives and in particular the ‘Five Gates of Grief’ described by the author Francis Weller in his book the ‘Wild Edge of Sorrow'.
Diarmaid Fitzpatrick is an Elder of the Mankind Project and has many years of experience in facilitating open circles. He has participated in Grief Tending events facilitated by Francis Weller and Azule Thome and he has hosted 16 on-line Grief Tending Gatherings for over 100 members of the Mankind Project during the Covid-19 Lockdown.
Douglas Guest has nearly 30 years of work in public & third sector, he has written national training programmes and led action learning sets, seminars, workshop, conferences & co-created Year of the Dad in 2016 for Scottish Government.
Mena Kirmani is a facilitator with extensive professional and lived experience whose practice marries together emotional integration, embodiment, liberation/decolonisation, trauma healing and nature connection. Most recently, she has held monthly community sharing circles for #POCImpact, a collective for People of Colour in the UK social impact space.
Thomas Munro is a former Policeman and teacher, he is currently a freelance facilitator of foster care dads for Barnardo’s.
About the Mankind Project
MKP is the largest provider of men circles across UK and Ireland, with men attending weekly or bi-weekly groups. They also provide development and leadership training and a range of on-line support to men. More information is available here: The ManKind Project UK and Ireland
Booking a place
4 November, 7pm - 9.30pm, a co-gender online grief tending event run by Mankind project men of Edinburgh. You can book a place here: Virtual grief tending and remembrance event
It it is encouraged but not essential to read 'Wild Edge of Sorrow' before the event. You may also wish to watch this short film in which Francis Weller talks about the Five Gates of Grief: Francis Weller.
5 November, online.
Angus Health and Social Care Partnership is pleased to be collaborating with Angus Creative Minds and Forfar Action of Churches Together to host a To Absent Friends Festival Event.
They are inviting people from Forfar and surrounding areas to share their stories by either writing up to 200 words or make a voice recording, up to 90 seconds. Local artists from Angus Creative Minds will use images and pictures to symbolise each story and we will bring the stories together to be shared at a virtual a event on Thursday 5th November and available online thereafter.
Thursday 5 November organised by Inverclyde Carers Centre
Several activities will take place creating opportunities to talk about loss. All activities will be online on Zoom due to the current COVID 19 restrictions, but afternoon tea and a “Friends Bag” will be provided in advance.
Within the bag there will be a booklet of poems and inspirational cards relating to loss and death and other small items which will help to guide discussions. There will also be a candle for Carers to light and put in their window and a photo or poem relating to the person they want to remember.