Shoreline to Shoreline

…invites individuals, friends and families to travel to the waters edge on the same day; to stand on a beach or a rocky shoreline as the sea recedes to the horizon and to remember and mark or memorialise loss in any way you feel appropriate. You might invite someone to join you on the other side of the ocean, two parts of a family or two friends connected together by water.

A moment of reconnection in a world connected by water. Always in motion, always connected.

A collective marking of loss in the time of Covid

Shoreline to Shoreline is a creative response to the challenges of our changing world. 

Travel to a shoreline or any body of water that is near to you or that is significant on 20th December 2020 to remember, mark or memorialise loss. There are some suggestions further down this page for small acts of marking and remembrance...

Take part anytime over this day. High tide is perfect as at that point, the shore is refreshed and renewed. In Dumfries and Galloway high tide on 20th December is around 3.20pm. Please check local tide times.


The shoreline remains a threshold between us and another place.  That other place could be a new country, a new way of being or even a new feeling.  It remains the landscape that most captures our sense of ourselves in uncertainty and longing and offers us comfort in those feelings.

Robbie Coleman

Suggestions for small acts of marking and remembrance:

Stand alone and focus your thoughts on who or what has been lost – sing a song to the sea – write a name in the sand – arrange for a friend or family member to go to a shore at the same time and carry out a small ritual of connection – collect leaves in autumnal colours and let the sea carry them away – make a fire to honour your loss and gaze into the flames – read a poem or significant text – make a cairn of stones as a memorial – talk about a loved ones life – make an origami paper boat, dedicate it to a loved one or other loss and set it adrift – cleanse yourself by paddling or swimming in the water – make a necklace of shells, giving a meaning to each one – build a shoreline shrine in honour of your loss with beautiful pebbles, shells and shoreline flowers or leaves, add photos and candles – at that moment, anything that seems right is right.

Even as we stand alone on the waters edge, we are joined by the sea.

“Ritual gives words to the unspeakable and form to the formless. It brings the non physical into physical form so that we can see it, touch it, feel it and process it” Terri Daniel


The many forms of loss…

Individual Loss : COVID-19 has imposed many restrictions on the way families can be with loved ones especially at the end of their lives. New rules have been made that impact on the traditional ways that we mark a persons passing and on the ways in which we can be together and support each other. This has had a profound impact upon mourning and grieving, leading to feelings of guilt, helplessness and loss.

How can we deal with the feelings of incompleteness that many people are feeling in grief or when they feel they can’t be present to support families through this time? Can we mourn and remember together but also remain safely separate?  Can we stand as individuals and yet feel part of a wider community of grief? Can we grieve without touching?

Collective Loss: Feelings of grief are also present in other ways at this time. Covid has brought other losses; loss of the comfort of touch, loss of family support, loss of jobs, loss of freedoms… these losses have significant impacts on us as individuals, on our relationships and our communities and many people are experiencing a deep sense of heaviness and sadness. Many of us have also become more aware of the impact of human activity on the planet, of the acceleration of loss of species and biodiversity and of the climate crisis. 

Shoreline to Shoreline offers a context and space for contemplation and reflection, a moment to acknowledge and mark loss in whatever form it takes, and to reconnect with family, friends, ourselves and the planet.

The Circular Journey of Water

Every droplet of rain, every snowflake that falls is on a circular journey. Water that evaporates from the surface of a puddle may arrive on the other side of the world as part of a wave crashing onto a beach. The journey may have taken a few days carried in clouds across the sky or a thousand years trapped in a glacier creeping through the Northern darkness.

If you would like to take part but can’t get to the sea’s edge, you can locate a body of water close to you such as a river or loch. You can travel there and carry out your act of marking or remembrance. If you cant leave your home, then you can create a simple connecting act using water – fill a bowl with water and float a lit candle, make a small shrine of significant objects or photographs and include a bowl of water. Create your own small act involving water in some way.

Individually, we are one drop. Together, we are an ocean.

Ryunosuke Akutagawa
About Shoreline to Shoreline… 

Shoreline to Shoreline is a creative response to the challenges of our changing world and is part of artists Robbie Coleman and Jo Hodges work for Atlas Pandemica. Atlas Pandemica consists of 10 creatively led investigations, each exploring a theme highlighted by life during the Covid pandemic in Dumfries and Galloway. Each investigation is designed to encourage innovative approaches in charting the changes brought about by Covid, and to try and navigate the way forward into a more hopeful and shared future. As part of Atlas Pandemica, Robbie and Jo are researching and responding to dying and grieving.

Shoreline to Shoreline was conceived in collaboration with Hanna Casement from Dumfries and Galloway. Hanna’s 17 year old nephew Barney, was tragically killed in a car accident during the first lockdown in 2020. As Hanna’s sister lives in Australia, restrictions prevented, and still prevent, Hanna and her parents from being able to fly over to be with her sister and the rest of the family. Shoreline to Shoreline developed as a result of conversations with Hanna exploring ideas for the creation of an event or ritual that could be carried out by individuals as a collective action to help in processing feelings of incompleteness in grief. The Ocean became a place of connection for Hanna and her sister on the other side of the world, both of whom created a small ritual at the water’s edge.

Atlas Pandemica is curated by Matt Baker and Robbie Coleman and is produced by The Stove Network

Images Jo Hodges and Kyna Hodges

We’ll be gathering thoughts and reflections after the event. Please add yours HERE
Thank you

Contact Us

We’d love to hear your suggestions for helpful organisations, books and other resources.

Links and Resources… 

Support during bereavement: https://www.cruse.org.uk

PDF of Ideas for keeping in touch with someone who is ill if you cant be with them: https://nationalbereavementalliance.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Keeping-in-touch.pdf

Resources for helping each other through the difficult times that can come with death, dying, loss and care and for building compassionate communities: https://www.goodlifedeathgrief.org.uk/

Absent Friends: A people’s festival of storytelling and remembrance. 1-7 Nov each year: https://www.toabsentfriends.org.uk/

‘It’s ok not to be ok’ by Megan Devine.
‘The Wild Edge of Sorrow’ by Francis Weller
‘Deaths Summer Coat : What the History of Death and Dying Teaches Us About Life and Living’ by Brandy Schillace

The Work That Reconnects (Joanna Macy) helps people discover connections with each other and the self-healing powers of the web of life, transforming despair and overwhelm into inspired, collaborative action. https://workthatreconnects.org/

Understanding more about mourning collective loss in Covid 19: https://www.collectivepsychology.org/

Interview with academic Judith Butler about how to think about vulnerability to COVID-19 in political terms and what it means to mobilise and learn from private grief and mass mourning: https://truthout.org/articles/judith-butler-mourning-is-a-political-act-amid-the-pandemic-and-its-disparities/