Everyone has a story to tell of someone who is dead who they miss - a grandparent who had a fascinating life; a friend with a unique sense of humour; a child who loved to dance.
A person’s death does not lessen the meaning of the relationship we have with them.
But our culture doesn't really support active remembrance of dead people. Talking openly about someone who is dead can often cause discomfort or embarrassment.
In a culture where death is seen as being too morbid, too difficult or too disturbing to mention, how do we remember and pay our respects to the dead?
In Mexico, they still hold a huge holiday each year – Mexican Day of the Dead – dedicated to remembering family and friends who have died. Graves are tidied and decorated, special meals are prepared, and people remember, respect and celebrate those who have died.
Can we create a Scottish version of the Mexican Day of the Dead?
Scotland has a rich heritage of storytelling, especially as winter approaches and the nights draw in. What if we revive Scottish customs of remembrance that have lain dormant for so long in Samhain and All Souls Day? Can we recreate a meaningful opportunity for storytelling and remembrance in the Scottish tradition?
For a few days each year we should give ourselves the license to talk about our memories of those who have died. Share photo albums with your grandchildren. Invite your friends round to try your granny’s favourite recipe. Light a candle for the child you lost.
To Absent Friends is a new festival of storytelling and remembrance for Scotland – a chance for all of us to share and to listen, without discomfort or embarrassment. It is an chance to revive old traditions and create new ones – an opportunity for us all, in our own unique way, to raise a toast ‘to absent friends’.