good life, good death, good grief


To Absent Friends Festival 2017

Preparations are well underway for this year’s To Absent Friends, a people’s festival of storytelling and remembrance, which takes place across Scotland from 1-7 November.

The festival, which began in 2014, gives people across Scotland the opportunity to remember loved ones who have died, through stories, celebrations and acts of reminiscence.

All kinds of different events are taking place across Scotland to mark the occasion. Events already planned for this year include street parties, jazz evenings, coffee mornings, even a barber shop concert with an absent friends theme.

For example in Alloa, lung health support group, Breathe Easy Clackmannanshire will be holding a musical afternoon with Sauchie Community Choir to remember their absent friends.

The Broomhouse Centre in Edinburgh will be remembering their absent friends through storytelling and the creation of a "tree of life" on which to share memories.

Meanwhile in Aberdeenshire, musicians will be gathering at the "Tin Hut" (Gartly Community Hall) for a personal remembrance of their late friend, Keith Cockburn.

The Scottish Storytelling Centre is getting involved, with a workshop exploring the To Absent Friends Supper as a means of recreating an evocative opportunity for storytelling and remembrance in the Scottish tradition.

Many people will hold their own private acts of remembrance as well, and the festival provides an opportunity for people to share their tributes on the online Wall of Remembrance, and their songs on the Remembrance Playlist.

November has long been associated with remembrance of the dead, through traditions like Samhain and All Souls’ Day. To Absent Friends is reviving those lost traditions and helping to create new ones, as a way to support active remembrance of dead people. Talking openly about someone who is dead can often cause discomfort or embarrassment, but To Absent Friends wants to change that.

If you're interested in getting involved, the festival website offers plenty of suggestions, from small private acts of reminiscence to larger events in which communities can come together to celebrate the lives of those who have died.

To Absent Friends will take place across Scotland from 1 – 7 November 2017.

This is set to be the biggest year yet, and festival listings can be viewed on the To Absent Friends website. We’re adding to the list every day, so please get in touch if you would like to get involved. If you're looking for inspiration, some ideas are suggested here: Get Involved.

For more information or to take part, contact Robert Peacock on or 0131 272 2735 or find out more via the website:

Planning Your Own Funeral guide published

The Scottish Government have today published a guide to Planning Your Own Funeral.

coffin in hearse

The short booklet takes people through what they should consider when planning their funeral, including decisions such as:

  • whether to be buried, cremated or have your body donated to medical science
  • what kind of coffin you would like
  • how you will be dressed
  • what kind of service, if any, you would like

The booklet also provides further information about financial planning for a funeral, and the assistance available if your family can’t afford to pay for your funeral. There's also space to write down a personal funeral plan which can then be shared with friends and family.

Download Planning Your Own Funeral guide

small grants schemes 2017

We are pleased to announce that Good Life, Good Death, Good Grief is running two small grants schemes to support organisations wishing to participate in this year's To Absent Friends festival...

small grants scheme for to absent friends concerts

A small grants fund has been established to enable community music groups to put on To Absent Friends concerts. The maximum sum available through this programme is £350 and the deadline for applications is 23 August 2017.

More information is available here: small grants for community music groups.

small grants schemes for organisations

A small grants fund has been set up to support organisations to participate in To Absent Friends, with a particular focus on supporting small organisations to undertake local activities that provide public opportunities for storytelling and/or remembrance of people who have died. The maximum sum available through this programme is £250 and the deadline for applications is 23 August 2017.

More information is available here: small grants scheme

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