Project to stimulate more open discussion about dying is rolled out to four sites

Date posted

29 October 2019


A Memorial Garden project shaped by university research has expanded into a series of events across the east of Scotland.


The art installation garden was created in Edinburgh two years ago in response to a study into the training of health and care staff in issues relating to death and dying.


Individual notes of remembrance were displayed in the temporary garden of illuminated lillies in the Grassmarket as part of To Absent Friends, a festival which gave people the chance to celebrate and to reminisce about those we have lost.


Now, two years on, the idea has inspired a wider series of events in collaboration with Good Life, Good Death, Good Grief, part of the Scottish Partnership in Palliative Care.

In 2017, the School of Arts & Creative Industries (Dr Kirstie Jamieson and Euan Winton) and School of Health & Social Care (Dr Diane Willis) at Edinburgh Napier worked with students and community groups to undertake a practical translation of NHS Education Scotland-funded research relating to issues surrounding death and bereavement.

Absent Friends Week, which aims to stimulate more open discussion about dying and bereavement, will this year see the idea rolled out in four areas.

Staff and students will be in Edinburgh’s Grassmarket from Tuesday 5th and Wednesday 6th November between 16:30 and 19:30, and members of the public will be able to pick up a lily at the King’s Stables Road end.

Once they have their lily, people are encouraged to write a message on the petal, switch it on to illuminate it and then plant their flower as a note of remembrance in the garden. The installation will be on display each night. 

Similar installations will also appear at the Main Tower Building at the University of Dundee on October 31, The Paxton Centre at Lundin Links on November 1 and the Margaret Kerr Unit at Haining House, Selkirk, on November 8.  

The team would like to thank Scottish Partnership in Palliative Care, NHS Borders Margaret Kerr Unit, Edinburgh City Council, Edinburgh Napier students, Gorgie Garvald, and The Thursday Group for their assistance with this project.