The Importance of Words by Kirstie Atherton, Funeral Celebrant

Kirstie Atherton, Funeral Celebrant, offers a really personal and bespoke celebrancy service.

In this week’s Guest Blog we receive wise words from celebrant Kirstie Atherton about, well, words…and chemistry, and the importance of finding the right funeral celebrant for you.

No one ever really leaves a funeral with the abiding memory of how shiny the hearse was. It’s unlikely that mourners ever really have a lasting memory of the colours of the floral tributes. There are two things that stay with people after a funeral, and they both relate to (if not dictate) feelings. Those two things? The words and the weather.

As proud as I am of my training and skills as an Independent Celebrant, as experienced and as dedicated as I am, I’ve yet to master the ability to clear the skies when the clouds roll in and the grey fog of heartbreak begins to loom low over our heads. I’ll have completed my Advanced Celebrancy training before autumn starts though, so maybe that’s my next step in professional development.

The words, however. Well, the words are fully within your celebrant’s control. Any good celebrant will tell you that funerals write themselves. The celebrant is the page. The loved ones of the person who’s died are the ink. And the method of combining the two is the magic. I used to occasionally sit at my desk stilled by the fear that maybe this one would be the one that just wouldn’t come to me. I don’t anymore. I can still be stilled of course, who can’t? But now I have trust. I know that if the words aren’t yet flowing, they just aren’t. Yet. I also know that when they’re ready they will.

I work within the belief that the people I am meant to support in creating end-of-life rituals are the people I will support. That there are people for whom I am the celebrant, and people for whom I’m not. When approached by families who are wisely ‘shopping around’ for a funeral officiant, I always assure them that finding a celebrant is like finding a partner – when you meet them, you’ll know.

Choice of officiant is at the absolute core of any end-of-life ritual. And yet so many people are still unaware that this is a choice which is entirely theirs to make. There are officiants who represent specific religions. Ministers who identify as multi-faith. There are Humanist Celebrants who deliver ceremonies based on humanity and reason. And then there are Independent Celebrants like me, who leave their own beliefs at the door and step into the beliefs of those at the core of the funeral. And yet, not all Independent Celebrants are created equal. Underneath our umbrella you’ll find the ones who like to deliver a ceremony off-the-cuff, the ones who have a set script into which they add personalised paragraphs of eulogy, and you’ll find the ones like me who write every word of every ceremony from scratch every time. There’s a place for all of these. There’s a celebrant to suit everyone. Whatever you’re looking for, it really is worth really looking. And if you do find one who has somehow learnt to control the weather, can you send them my way please?

Thank you Kirstie your thoughts.

To find out more about the Kirstie and the service she offers, please go to Kirstie Atherton Celebrant.

Scroll to Top