Celebrant Kate  

Unconventional ceremonies with a creative edge.

Independent and Humanist Celebrant

[email protected]

fb @communitycelebrant65

Helping children navigate grief

When someone dies it can be very hard for adults to know how to help children understand and process their grief. Whether it is a parent, family member, peer or even a much loved family pet, grief is different for each person, and the age of the child is also relevant, Here Kate shares her experience as a therapist, celebrant and teacher with advice on how to help children through this dreadful time.


Golden rule: Be guided by the child

Be age appropriate

Children differ in their capacity to understand grief depending on their age and maturity. Babies and small children lack the words for their grief but still feel it. Toddlers and the under 5s will take time to form a consistent understanding of death. This means that they may swing back and forth between understanding and not understanding. Be prepared for this, and to answer the same questions over and over again until they have managed to internalise the truth of the situation. Children aged 6 – 11 may seem to understand the language, but have very confused ideas about the reality of death, and may believe that they are to blame. This is true for all children facing the death of someone they love. They can become convinced on some level that if they had done something differently or been better behaved then their loved one would not have died. It is important not to dismiss their thoughts and feelings, but allow them to talk, and explain clearly what happened, making it clear that nothing the child did could have affected their loved one’s death. Pre teens and teens need careful support which understands the child in them, but respects the adult who is emerging.

Get help

It may help you to use books which explain death in age appropriate ways to help to support their understanding. A list is provided below. Look for a bereavement charity locally. There are charities that specialise in supporting children and adolescents through play therapy and meeting other bereaved children. There are also some great websites, but please be careful to research them first to see if they are suitable.

Answer their questions using plain language.

Answer their questions honestly and avoid euphemisms. If you have a faith, then use the language of your faith to describe death. A good guideline is to use simple, clear language, including the words dead and death because it has been found that children respond better to certainty. Please avoid euphemisms such as ‘sleeping’, ‘gone away’ ‘passed over’, as children find these confusing. For example, some children have even been known to avoid going to sleep in case they die too, or thinking that a parent has left town because the language hasn’t been clear.

Value memories.

Children will continue to grieve as they grow up. As they mature they may miss the person in different ways, and each age brings its own unique flavour to grief, Making memory boxes and scrap books can be really useful, because the child can access them throughout their lives, drawing different levels of support and understanding each time. Encourage children, if old enough. to record their thoughts on paper as a journal, or to write letters to their parent, or even to make videos/WhatsApp messages expressing their feelings.

Utilise all the senses

Even small babies grieve, but lack the words to explain their pain. It has been found that babies bereaved in the womb could be comforted by being wrapped in their parent’s clothes. The smell of a parent or close relative is important, and many children like having an item of their clothing to cuddle. Cushions or toys made from their parent’s clothes can be a valuable comforter – but please don’t wash them – or if you have to, then spray with the perfume/aftershave/fabric conditioner the child associates with the parent.

Listen, listen, listen

Listen. Listen again; and listen again. Children often talk in stream of consciousness – little clues to how they are feeling slip out when they are playing, or talking about something else. Be aware of what they are saying and feeling and avoid the temptation to ‘cure it’ or solve it. Listen. Let the child speak. Mention their loved one regularly and naturally in conversation. Children are often worried they will upset people, so let them know it is ok to share, talk and laugh, and also cry together.

Celebrate and honour

Mark anniversaries, but ask the children how they would like to do this – be led by them as much as possible.

With Christmas coming, ask the children how they want to include their lost loved one in the celebration – ideas can include setting a place, buying a present for them, writing a card to them, or posting on their Facebook, hanging a favourite bauble or visiting the grave. Just taking time to remember together, accepting the pain of loss is a powerful step in a child’s grief.

Helpful charities:

This website lists many charities, local and national who can help you find the words.

https://www.maggiescentres.org/cancerlinks/supporting-someone/bereavement-support/bereavement-support-children/

Helpful books: age 1-8

The Invisible string by Patrice Karst

Tell me about Heaven, Grandpa rabbit by Jenny Album

Badger’s parting gifts by Susan Varley

I miss you – by Pat Thomas

Muddles, Puddles and Sunshine – (activity book) Diane Crossley

Age 8 – preteen

When someone very special dies – Maggie Heergard (activity book)

Michael Rosen’s sad book – Michael Rosen

Coping with death – Glitter moon press

Teenage

Michael Rosen’s sad book – Michael Rosen

Still here with me – teenagers and children on losing a parent – Susanne Sloquist

The Salt Path – Raynor Win

Learn More

Speaking publicly 

Public speaking is frightening for many of us. Having to do so when emotional is even worse. Whether for a funeral, baby naming, wedding or vow renewal, the thought of speaking aloud can be overwhelmingly frightening for many. This article, to which I contributed, has lots of sage advice on what to do when asked to speak. https://beyond.life/blog/nervous-about-speaking-at-a-funeral-try-these-celebrant-approved-tricks/

If the thought is just too daunting, then click on the link below to be taken to my other website. I am a fully qualified hypnotherapist with CBT, and help people overcome nerves and phobias. I can help you to have the perfect wedding, and also help you calm your nerves so that you enjoy it from start to finish!

help for  anxiety and nerves

writing the perfect speech

When you are asked to write a eulogy it can feel overwhelming. This article, which I contributed to, has 7 ways to help you to write the perfect eulogy. I always offer help  to you if you want to write your own eulogy, and also write them for you. Comments I have had for my eulogies include  "just wanted to say a huge thank you ...

I really felt that it reflected his life and spirit beautifully".

Find out 7 ways to help you to write the perfect eulogy by clicking the link below. 

https://beyond.life/blog/7-tips-from-celebrants-on-writing-a-great-funeral-speech/

Celebrant Kate explains: Handfasting

Find out what handfasting is, and how it can enhance your wedding in a beautiful way, without costing the earth. Ecofriendly handfasting is explained in this 'Greenunion.co.uk article.


https://www.greenunion.co.uk/blog/878/GUEST-POST---Celebrant-Kate-Explains%3A-Handfasting

5 top tips - how to make your sand ceremony more sustainable

Celebrant Kate's blogs

Scroll down for blogs on a variety of topics

Everything you wanted to know about being a Celebrant but were too afraid to ask!

So, why did you want to be a Civil Celebrant?

January 15, 2019

Because of this look.

-

 Because I spend my days surrounded by love sories - listening to them and then writing them. Whether they are for past, lost love, present, joyous love, or the future, new baby love, it is my pleasure and joy to tell these stories in a way which reflects the truth.

-

My story began when I decided to train to be a celebrant.

It took me several months to study with the FOIC to gain my Funeral Celebrant Certification from the NOCN. 

I then took time to consider if I wanted to train in weddings and baby naming ceremonies. I loved writing and conducting funerals and feel drawn to helping the bereaved. But then fate stepped in.

-

 At a funeral one of the guests asked me if I would consider remarrying her and her husband, who had been ill. She felt it would be so helpful for her to have someone who linked her parents to the day to conduct the ceremony. The very next week I spoke to a friend who had been diagnosed with cancer for the third time and realised I could give her and her husband a lovely 'congratulations on recovering' treat for their 30th anniversary - and so the idea of training as a Wedding celebrant was born. 

-

It was not cheap, and it was not easy. More studying, more testing and more homework ensued but I did it! And I have never regretted it. As I craft my wedding ceremonies and baby naming celebrations I find again the joy in helping people celebrate something so special. 

-

My role as recommended celebrant for Denbies Vineyard and Riverview Manor, membership of The Celebrant Directory and Weddings, brides dresses and more means that many new couples are finding their way to me, and many more families are enjoying the chance to formally name their children in the sight of those they love and trust. What a wonderful job!

Find me on:

https://www.thecelebrantdirectory.com/

and

https://www.weddingsbridesdressesandmore.com/

Funerals with character  

click here for more information

March 2019

Why should a funeral follow the same, boring, path? Funerals are sad enough, but they can leave you wondering if you came to the right one! 

-

My funerals tell the story of the person you have lost in a way which everyone there will recognise. Their character, quotes, quirks and all that made them special will be in the ceremony. Why am I a funeral celebrant? It is a long story really. Possibly it is in my blood (my great grandad was a Funeral Director) though I never felt any interest as a child or young adult.

-

I think it is because of my previous job in education. My role meant that I spent a lot of time with distressed families and children. I learned to listen, and to capture a child's personality on paper in order to help the families find the help they needed. Later on I trained as a Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapist and mindfulness guide and found even more pleasure in helping people in distress. I learned to hear what wasn't said, to spend time just being, and to offer the right words at the right time.

-

Finally I trained with grief, in order to help grieving children and their families. How to help when it was too hard. How to help them to find the words which had deserted them.

So now, when I am sitting with someone newly bereaved and in shock, my experience helps them to find the words. My creativity helps me to create a service which might be very traditional, or completely different, but is always what they want. The extras I provide, the little things which help on the day, and provide memories for the future come from our conversations and always honour the memory of those you have lost.

-

I am there on the phone when needed, will change anything you want right up until the service itself, and there afterwards if you ever need a chat. When I get home afterwards I gently say goodbye to your loved one, and know that I have done my best to make a dreadful time that little bit better. And that is the reason I do this job, and also why I love it so much.

What is a baby naming ceremony? 

Click here for more information

29th April  2019

/Many people nowadays do not want to have a Christening or other religious naming ceremony, but do want to mark their baby's birth and welcome them into the family. A baby naming ceremony is just that - a chance to name the baby in the presence of family and friends. 


Just like in a christening ceremony the parents can name friends who will be there for the baby throughout his/her life. Some parents call these friends 'guides' others 'sponsors', and increasingly they are called 'Odd Parents'. The ceremony can be as simple or ornate as you wish - from simple promises and vows to unity candles, flower ceremonies and sand ceremonies - the choice is as individual as your family. Baby welcoming ceremonies can also mark the blending of several families into one. For example if there are step brothers and sisters, they can also be included in a symbolic way, so that their part in the family group is celebrated and confirmed. 


Typically there are readings, vows or promises by the parents and chosen family/friends and an explanation of the choice of names. I would usually offer a formal naming speech, which could involve a religious or spiritual element, or could be completely secular, depending on the families wishes. Music may be part of the ceremony if wished, as can the lighting of candles, giving of advice and Grand Parent promises. 


Naming ceremonies can take place anywhere because you do not need a licence, and can be as large or as small as you wish. At last there is a way to welcome a baby and formally name them in a creative way! 

What do I do if I want to  marry marry using a celebrant?

29th April  2019

You  can register your intention to marry at your local register office. This is called a 'Notice of marriage or civil partnership, and must be given in a Register

Office (separate notice must be given by both parties). This means that your details and intention to marry will be posted in a public place for three weeks. This is a legal requirement, and would be the same even if you were marrying in a register office or other approved (licensed) venue. I see it as the equivalent of the Banns being read for a church wedding. What you do next is up to you - but if you choose a celebrant wedding, you will need to have a Basic Registration of marriage or civil partnership. This is a 15 minute legal service, with only 4 guests permitted (witnesses). You are now legally married! Let your wedding commence! You are now free to have any type of ceremony you want, anywhere that the landowner gives permission - beaches, up a tree, sky diving, under water, on a football pitch ,in a Gothic mansion or your own back yard - only your imagination limits you. This is why more and more people are choosing Celebrant Led weddings, because of the utter freedom they afford.

For your information, I am attaching links to the Register office information in Kent - page 4 tells you all about the basic ceremonies - it also shows you how much more you are likely to pay for a registrar to come to a licenced venue (hotel, barn etc) - I would suggest checking just how much the venue is charging you for this service too - it can be quite shocking! Whereas if you book me, I have a flat fee, which once agreed will not change, and includes unlimited rewrites, meetings and a rehearsal, plus your own copies of the vows and ceremony, and a certificate of your wedding with me to take home.

I hope this has been useful - please do message me with any questions!

Kent Registrar office services: http://www.akentishceremony.com/assets/PDFs/Fees-2019-22-.pdf

Surrey Registrar office services: (at the bottom of the page -statutory register office wedding for 2 guests) https://www.surreycc.gov.uk/birth-death-and-ceremonies/marriage-and-civil-partnerships/ceremony-guide/fees#not

West Sussex Registrar services - https://www.westsussex.gov.uk/births-ceremonies-and-deaths/marriages-and-civil-partnerships/ceremony-administration/ceremony-fees/

Celebrant Kate explains.... Top Wedding Celebrant describes how to create the perfect wedding and baby naming ceremonies.

Top tips for an amazing, unique and fun baby naming

Top tips for an amazing, unique and fun baby naming by Celebrant Kate.

Want to find out more? Click here for prices and deals

Click here to book a phone call or meeting  with Kate

Top tips for an awesome, fun and completely bespoke wedding ceremony

Top tips for an awesome, fun and completely bespoke wedding ceremony by Celebrant Kate.

Want to find out more? Click here for prices and information on celebrant Kate's weddings

Click here to book a phone call or meeting with Kate