To Absent Friends festival

What is it?

To Absent Friends is a people’s festival of storytelling and remembrance. It aims to reignite traditions of remembering the dead as a way to support those who are experiencing grief and bereavement and to encourage greater openness about death and dying.

Why is it happening?

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?

When is it?

It takes place from 1-7 November 2019

Where is it?

Public events are taking place across Scotland, but people can also get involved via the To Absent Friends website and on social media.

Who is organising it?

The festival forms part of a year round initiative called Good Life Good Death Good Grief, led by the Scottish Partnership for Palliative Care.

What is happening?

Public events have been planned by various organisations and community groups across Scotland, beginning with a launch with an illuminated lilies garden at Dundee University on Thursday 31 October. Other events include cafes of reminiscence, poetry nights, concerts and craft workshops. For a full list see the event listings on the website.

How can I get involved?

If you’re doing anything for To Absent Friends, please share it on social media with the hashtag #ToAbsentFriends and copy us in. We’re also asking people to join in online in the following ways:

Profile Pictures – During the week, we’re asking people to change their profile pictures to someone who has died, and to update their status/tweet to say why.

Remembrance Playlist – Remember someone through a song. On the To Absent Friends website, we are collating a list of musical tributes to absent friends. Visit the website and send in your suggestions of a song.

Wall of Remembrance – For those who want to leave an anonymous tribute to someone they have lost, there is a place on the website for them to do so. 

Online Storytelling – We have an online space for people to share longer stories about those they love who have died.

Please encourage people to participate in these activities via social media using the links above. We have prepared graphics you can share alongside them which can be accessed via Dropbox:

How do I get in touch?


Twitter: @2absentfriends

Hashtag: #ToAbsentFriends

E-mail: [email protected]

The team at To Absent Friends would love to hear from you if you are holding an event or have an act of remembrance which you wish to share.