Press release

Illuminated lily garden to celebrate loved ones who have died

Published on 1 October 2019

The University of Dundee’s front lawn will be lit up by hundreds of specially created artificial lilies when a national festival of remembrance is launched later this year

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The grassy area in front of the Tower Building on Nethergate will play host to an illuminated memorial garden on Thursday 31 October to mark the beginning of this year’s ‘To Absent Friends’ programme.

To Absent Friends is a people’s festival of storytelling and remembrance which takes place in Scotland each autumn. It is a chance for people to remember, tell stories, celebrate and reminisce about loved ones who have died.

As part of the festival, a memorial garden has sprung up on Edinburgh’s Grassmarket for each of the past two years. Each lily was created from a small coloured glowstick and a large plastic ‘petal’ on which people could write a message to a loved one. The initiative has spread to four Scottish towns and cities for 2019, with Dundee also being chosen to host the festival launch.

The lilies will be replanted at another city centre location after the launch and the organisers of the Dundee project are inviting members of the public who would like to light a lily in memory of a loved one to get in touch.

Mayra Crowe, a Lecturer in Spanish at the University, said, “We are delighted to be hosting the first memorial garden of this kind in Dundee and to be launching this year’s festival. To Absent Friends started in 2014, and I have had the privilege to be involved with them ever since. We encourage openness about death as a way of helping the bereaved cope with their loss.

“My colleague Eddie Small has also subsequently got involved while another colleague Daniel Clarke approached us with the idea of hosting a lily garden here. The aim is to create an opportunity for people to honour the memory of a loved one that has passed away and we would love to hear from people in this area who are interested.”

To Absent Friends is now in its sixth year and is run by the organisation Good Life Good Death Good Grief, which aims to make Scotland a place where people help each other through the difficult times that can come with death, dying, loss and care. The idea to create the illuminated lily garden came from a group from Napier University in 2017.

Anyone who would like to know more about the Dundee project can contact Mayra on 01382 384899 or

The organisers would like to let those interested know that the glow-sticks are re-usable and the ones they will be using are the same ones used at other locations in Scotland. It is intended for the glow-sticks will be re-used in subsequent and next year’s events and the lily leaves are paper-based.


Press Office, University of Dundee
Story category Public interest