Background Storytelling/remembrance can the reduce isolation of recently (and less recently) bereaved people, and are beneficial to participants. Traditional rituals and approaches which supported storytelling/remembrance are declining in Scotland. Pubs are hubs of social interaction and storytelling, especially for men.
Aim To explore the acceptability of beer mats in pubs as a prompt to storytelling and remembrance of people who have died, and to promote To Absent Friends, a peoples’ festival of storytelling and remembrance.
Methods 5 mats were designed – each had a carefully selected quotation or piece of trivia relating to loss or remembrance, plus a web link to www.toabsentfriends.org.uk. 20,000 mats were made available to order. Feedback regarding acceptability was elicited through conversation with bar tenders, direct observation and a questionnaire dispatched with some orders. A press release was issued.
Results The mats were generally viewed as being acceptable. A local brewer distributed Approximately 15,000 mats to pubs across Edinburgh. The main Edinburgh newspaper ran a prominent article about the mats, the To Absent Friends Festival and the value of greater openness about death and dying.
Conclusion Beer mats are an acceptable way of introducing reflection on loss, grief and mortality into pubs. More research is needed to establish the effectiveness of the mats in prompting storytelling and remembrance.
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