Everyone is welcome to participate in the To Absent Friends Festival. Below are some ideas of ways to join in...
Sometimes people organise walks of remembrance. The walk doesn't have to be long, but might be to a place of special significance to a community. Sometimes people walk after dark, bringing lanterns, candles or torches. The walk might culminate with the laying of tributes, reading poetry, planting a tree, or lighting a fire. Sometimes people prepare for the walk in advance by making some kind of artwork or tribute.
Sometimes people just want some quiet time with their own thoughts, but that can be hard to find with busy lives and workplaces. To Absent Friends week can be an opportunity to provide a quiet space for people. In previous years hospital chapels and churches have held unstructured drop-in sessions, sometimes with options for quiet remembrance activities such as lighting a candle or writing in a remembrance book. A quiet room or outdoor remembrance bench or garden is something that may be welcomed in any busy environment, such as care homes, hospitals and shopping centres.
Art and craft activities
Even if people don't consider themselves 'artistic' many people get a sense of fulfillment from creating something new, and find that the process of making something in remembrance of someone they love is a positive experience. Doing this alongside others can prompt sharing of stories, memories, laughter and tears. In previous years some beautiful events have been created around the artwork of ordinary people including photographic exhibitions and performance poetry nights. People have organised art or crafts workshops for adults or children, creating meaningful artwork in the form of memory boxes, lanterns and murals.
Examples from previous years: Essence of a Memory photo competition; Poetry Circus; Memory Box workshop; Crocus Group Heart Mural; Memories in the Making; Victoria Hospice; Leadhills Family Action Group; Scrapbooking workshop;
Getting together in person is something we've learned not to take for granted. However, over the last year many people have become increasingly confident taking part virtual get-togethers online. In previous festivals, people have organised all kinds of get-togethers for their community, bringing people together to chat, share stories and memories. Often these are small, informal gatherings, for example a coffee morning for care home residents and their families, or of a peer support group. Sometimes they are larger, open to everyone and involve more formal performances. Often people share music or poetry that has a special significance.
Examples from previous years: Peacock Nursing Home; Scottish Poetry Library; Dryve for life, love and absent friends; Broomhouse Centre; Willowbrae; Glenatar Court Social Group; Carriden Community Volunteer Group; Breath Easy Clackmannanshire; Remembrance supper & jazz improv; In fond memory
Reminiscing over food and drink
After living with covid-19 restrictions for so long, many people are understandably still wary about meeting to eat together in public. However, in previous festivals, getting together over food and drink has been important for many, and hopefully with thought and innovation some of this can still take place either virtually, or in person. For those looking for structure, Reminiscence Cafes and To Absent Friends Suppers can provide a loose framework within which people can express themselves.
Tributes and installations
Remembrance can be as simple as lighting a candle or writing someone's name. Gathered together, such acts can become powerful public tributes. In previous festivals, people have organised some beautiful interactive public tributes, including tribute walls and an interactive lily lighting installation.
Photo credit - Autumnal walk by Sebastian Unrau