Volunteer Midlothian organised a To Absent Friends event in Dalkeith Welfare Hall, hosted by the Retelling Our Stories group. The event provided space for people to chat and share their own stories of absent friends. The main atmosphere of the event was one of celebration, and the event was attended by a good mix of participants from local dementia friendly groups, and other groups for older people in the area.
Over a cup of tea or coffee, a storyteller shared a story about memories and those ‘passing away’, followed by the reading of a poem. A minute's silence was held for people to reflect on an absent friend or loved one - a poignant experience with which everyone engaged with great sensitivity - followed by the opportunity to light a candle.
People shared memories and stories in small groups, and hung tributes on a memory tree. Sharing memories continued over coffee and cake. A local musician and singer sang the song ‘ Memories’, followed by a reading of a section from Tam O Shanter by one the group members who has dementia.
A poem that was written by the Retelling our Stories group was also read out and this was followed by some communal singing.
The event finished with a non-religious blessing specifically written for the group (a copy of this was given to each person as they left along with a white rose.)
Some quotes from participants:
"A wee note to say well done on a very successful day yesterday. Your organisation, sensitivity and attention to detail was super."
"I think everyone seemed to get something from the quality of the morning, all thanks"
“Many many thanks for organising today’s event “To Absent Friends”. I thought that it was a wonderful and touching celebration”