Festival blog

This festival blog is a space where people can share the plans and activities they are undertaking as part of To Absent Friends 2015. Please email if you've something you'd like to add, or go here for some ideas on how to get involved. You can also read last year's blog here.

Remembering You

At Letham Gardens, a sheltered housing development in Dunbar, tenants will be remembering absent friends over afternoon tea on 24 November.

Each of the guests will be given a piece of brightly coloured paper and will be asked to write down the name of an old friend, tenant or relative, who is no longer with us. These will be placed on a poster on the wall. It will evoke memories of the people, which often leads into stories of what life was like in the early days in Dunbar.

After an afternoon tea, an entertainer will play some music. After that, and another serving of tea, each name on the poster will be read out and people invited to recall and share a fond memory of the person. It is hoped the event will be both heart-warming and funny.

In Fond Memory

Tenants and friends of Market Court sheltered housing development in Haddington will be taking a walk down memory lane, remembering old friends who have now left us, with an event on 29 November.

An afternoon tea has been arranged, with a group of musicians to entertain guests with a variety of classic tunes to bring back memories. Beforehand, the residents will make a list of songs that have special memories of the friends they have lost, ready for a wee sing along.

The plan is also to make a collage of old photos and tell stories and recall memories of old tenants.

Old photos often lead to stories of bygone days, as most of the tenants were born and brought up nearby. Since it is a farming community, a lot of people are related or have worked together, and the stories and memories they have are amazing.

Friends from the sheltered housing complex next door have also been invited. Since they do not have a lounge, Market Court always try to include them in their activities.

Cafe of Reminiscence

At the Macmillan Centre, St John’s Hospital, Livingston, they are holding a Cafe of Reminiscence for To Absent Friends on Thursday 5 November.

The event promises tea, coffee, cake and good conversation. There will be a sharing of stories and memories, and, as it is not always easy to know what to say when talk turns to death, to get things going there'll be handy conversation starters to select from a special ‘menu’.

Visitors are encouraged to bring a photo, a book or a memento of the person they wish to celebrate. It could be a grandparent who had a fascinating life, a friend who had a unique sense of humour, or anyone whose life they choose to remember.

Cafes of Reminiscence are easy to hold and to take part in. See our handy guide here.

Remembering The Light

A simple and creative candlelight ceremony, led by Fife poet Jayne Wilding, is going to take place on Falkland Estate on the evening of Monday 16 November from 6-8pm.

The event will involve a number of people who have been affected by loss of a loved one, including those who have struggled with mental or emotional health or traumatic loss.

The Centre for Stewardship is hosting the event as part of its plans to use the outstanding designed landscape, in its care, for therapeutic and ceremonial purposes.

The event will involve some walking, listening and sharing about light and darkness, inside and outside. Subject to reasonable weather, those who take part will follow a short route accompanied by candles and water. There will also be a wet weather alternative.

It is intended that this small event might augur the future development of ceremonies in a small handful of landscapes in Fife for both therapeutic benefit and/or rites of passage.

The small ceremony will involve members of Fife Employment Access Trust, friends of the Centre for Stewardship as well as people who experience mental health problems and supportive professionals.

Numbers are limited, so visitors are asked to contact the centre on venue@centreforstewardship.org.uk if interested.

Honouring Memories

On 4 November, St Columba's Hospice, Edinburgh, will be hosting a special creative writing workshop for staff, held to mark To Absent Friends.

Called Honouring Memories it will offer a space to staff for reflection and the sharing of memories of the patients they have cared for at the Hospice. It will be led by poet Elspeth Murray with Dr Erna Haraldsdottir.

No experience of creative writing or poetry will be required. Staff are being asked only to bring their heart and their mind!

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