Festival blog

This festival blog is a space where people shared their plans and activities undertaken as part of To Absent Friends 2014. Please email if you've something you'd like to add, or go here for some ideas on how to get involved next year.

memories of grandad

I wanted to capture some of my memories of Grandad, and as someone who loves to be creative, a memory cube was a natural way to do it. This is how I made my 6” x 6” wooden memory cube.

Step 1. I painted all 6 sided in a cream acrylic paint which I watered down to 2 parts paint:1 part water.

Step 2. The base. I printed out a small dedication to my Grandad and stuck it on with glue. I left it to dry before moving on to step 3.

Step 3. The draughts board. I repainted this surface white, cut out some black squares and once the paint was dry I glued on the black squares to make a

chequered board design. I cut out 3 black circles and 2 white circles for draughts pieces and attached them with glue.

Step 4. The Crab. Using navy blue archival ink I stamped some seaside images in the 4 corners. Using children’s stencils and orange paint, I stencilled in the crab, when dry I glued down the googly eyes. I left this facing up while the glue dried to stop the eyes from slipping off!

Step 5. Fuzz. This side was lightly brushed over with gold paint. The letters F U Z Z and a heart shape were cut out and glued down. Go have a cuppa while you wait for this side to dry.

Step 6. A Declaration of Love. I cut the photograph down to size and using black archival ink I inked around the edges of the photograph. I cut a piece of red card slightly smaller than the size of the cube. Using double sided sticky tape, I attached the photo to the red card. I took 2 green plastic bottle tops and 2 paper fasteners, painted them with black gesso then covered them in a silver ink. I made a hole in the centre of each bottle top and attached the paper fasteners. These are my dustbin lids!! I printed out the phrase “A declaration of Love” onto card, cut the card to size and inked the edges with black archival ink. Using a hot glue gun I attached the dustbin lids and the words.

Step 7. The Bonfire. I made a cylinder out of cardboard, this gave me the basic bonfire shape. Using a hot glue gun I stuck down lots of scrunched up bits of newspaper. I then layered around bits of twigs I’d collected. I stuffed the cylinder with more paper and using lots of hot glue stuck the base down. I stuck a few more twigs here and there until I was happy with the look. The fireworks: I cut out 6 small rocket shapes and 9 pieces of wire ( 3 long and 6 shorter pieces). Using double sided sticky tape I sandwiched 1 long piece and 2 shorter pieces of wire between 2 rockets, repeated another 2 times. On the long pieces of wire I dabbed on lots of glue and threaded on sequins. Once dry I stuck them in the top of the bonfire with hot glue.

By Louise Wood

Cuimhneachain – Memories

Growing up on the Island of Lewis on the north west of Scotland, the sharing of good food and stories are still part of the tradition at a time of bereavement.

The Over 60s groups in the district of Lochs: the Silver Darlings, Cairdean Cordail and Pairc Social club gathered last November to commemorate Absent Friends. This was an opportunity to dust down the photograph albums, with memories of former members related through storytelling. The event also featured local stories of love, loss and daring deeds, accompanied by music from local artistes.

A memory wall was created featuring poetry and crafts made in memory of absent friends. The poetry included the popular An Fhainne - The Ring written in her native Gaelic by Chrissie MacIver for her mother Marion Mackay. The poem commemorates each crofting implement handled and the people Mrs MacKay reached out to touch and help during her lifetime.

The evening included traditional dishes prepared by the Balallan and District Recreation Association evoking family memories of a fine diet of natural products such as salt fish, oatcakes, crowdie and cream and the traditional duff.

The above picture by Murdo MacLeod from Shawbost, depicts a funeral at Dalmore on the west side of Lewis in 1984. There is a post funeral custom of friends and relatives gathering to share a meal. Family links are strengthened as people travel from a distance to pay their respects and renew the blood ties.

7pm, Friday 7th November 2014, Balallan Hall, Isle of Lewis

remembrance tree

On the 7th November 2014, at Peacock Nursing Home in Livingston we invited past and present residents' families to join us in a celebration of absent family and friends.

Residents and their guests had the chance to chat over a cup of tea, and to write their own special tributes to a dead loved one on colourful tags.

Tributes were hung on a Remembrance Tree (pictured) which is now a permanent fixture in the care home.

Nursing Memories

In our work on bereavement and within our own teaching we have found a number of nursing students have encountered bereavements, personally or professionally. Within classes there is little opportunity to discuss bereavement or grief– and little ‘thinking time’ to consider the wider aspects of our own mortality. Often students feel isolated, and there aren't many forums where discuss bereavement in a safe and informal

Last November, at the Nursing & Health Care School at the University of Glasgow we hosted a ‘remembrance cafe’ for student nurses. We brought together students over a drink and a snack, to talk, share memories and remember friends and family who have died. There was a space to write messages to absent friends, and a chance to contribute to a collage of photographs.

This event enabled students to have a forum to share experiences. We also see this as a fantastic opportunity to get the next generation thinking and openly discussing the grief and death and thereby eroding the idea that this topic is ‘unmentionable’ and out of bounds.

Diane Wills and Jane Joy, Nursing & Health Care School , Glasgow University

Talk the untalkable

NHS Fife held a conference for health and social care professionals focusing on promoting more openness about death, dying and bereavement in Fife.

The conference included opportunities for delegates to reflect and remember dead loved ones by sharing tributes. The To Absent Friends photographic exhibition was on display throughout the morning. Participants learnt more about the wider festival and the conference closed with a moment's reflection and a toast 'to absent friends'.

The conference was organised by the Fife Death, Dying and Bereavement Group as part of their ongoing work to improve the well being and quality of life for people in Fife through greater openness about these issues.

Tuesday 4 November 2014, 9am - 1pm, Rothes Halls, Glenrothes

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