Helen France, Funeral Celebrant Kent and East Sussex


Being based in Kent and East Sussex, and I mainly take funerals in Tunbridge Wells Crematorium, Charing Crematorium (west of Ashford, Kent), Folkestone, Blue Bell Hill and Hastings Crematorium plus ceremonies to celebrate the life of someone you loved at hotels, restaurants, private homes and historic houses and gardens.

A funeral is a special event where family and friends gather together to say farewell to a loved one. This ceremony is an important element in the journey of grieving and leaving. For the immediate family it can be a great relief to know that the smooth running of the ceremony can be left in capable and sensitive hands.

Funeral services are divided into traditional and memorial services. Traditional funeral services are held in the presence of the casketed body, whereas the body of the deceased is not present for memorial services. These services are typically held at a crematorium, church or chapel of rest. Sometimes families like to have a memorial service in the privacy of their home. Some or all of the ceremony may be held at the graveside.

The visit to the family is an important part of the celebrant's work, and it requires sensitivity, tact, and an ability to come alongside them as a friend during what is a very stressful and taxing time. During the visit, we talk about the life of your loved one, and this forms the basis of the eulogy, also known as the tribute or funeral address. Many families say afterwards that this brought them a great deal of comfort at a very difficult time. Having been a therapist for almost twenty years, I can offer bereaved families a great deal of caring, warmth, support and kindness.

As a skilled and articulate speaker I will deliver the funeral address or eulogy with warmth, sensitivity, compassion, dignity and empathy. A celebrant led funeral or service of remembrance is a wonderful way of helping keep the memory of your loved one evergreen in your heart.

During the visit to the family I learn about about the life of the deceased person. We will also talk about whether you would like music, readings, poetry and possible contributions from family and friends.

It is my privilege to work closely with funeral directors in Kent, East Sussex, London and beyond.

Do not stand at my grave and weep;
I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning's hush,
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there, I did not die.

Mary Frye


Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message He Is Dead,
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last for ever: I was wrong.

The stars are not wanted now: put out every one;
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood.
For nothing now can ever come to any good.

W H Auden

“Life was not a valuable gift, but death was. Life was a fever-dream made up of joys embittered by sorrows, pleasure poisoned by pain; a dream that was a nightmare-confusion of spasmodic and fleeting delights, ecstasies, exultations, happinesses, interspersed with long-drawn miseries, griefs, perils, horrors, disappointments, defeats, humiliations, and despairs — the heaviest curse devisable by divine ingenuity; but death was sweet, death was gentle, death was kind; death healed the bruised spirit and the broken heart, and gave them rest and forgetfulness; death was man’s best friend; when man could endure life no longer, death came and set him free.” – Mark Twain, Letters from the Earth

“I can remember how when I was young I believed death to be a phenomenon of the body; now I know it to be merely a function of the mind — and that of the minds who suffer the bereavement. The nihilists say it is the end; the fundamentalists, the beginning; when in reality it is no more than a single tenant or family moving out of a tenement or a town.” – William Faulkner, As I Lay Dying

“Death is no more than passing from one room into another. But there’s a difference for me, you know. Because in that other room I shall be able to see.” – Helen Keller

The life that I have
Is all that I have
And the life that I have
Is yours
The love that I have
Of the life that I have
Is yours and yours and yours.
A sleep I shall have
A rest I shall have
Yet death will be but a pause
For the peace of my years
In the long green grass
Will be yours and yours and yours.

Leo Marks

Christina Rossetti (1830 - 1894)

I loved you first: but afterwards your love
Outsoaring mine, sang such a loftier song
As drowned the friendly cooings of my dove.

Which owes the other most? my love was long,
And yours one moment seemed to wax more strong;
I loved and guessed at you, you construed me
And loved me for what might or might not be –
Nay, weights and measures do us both a wrong.

For verily love knows not ‘mine’ or ‘thine;’
With separate ‘I’ and ‘thou’ free love has done,
For one is both and both are one in love:
Rich love knows nought of ‘thine that is not mine;’
Both have the strength and both the length thereof,
Both of us, of the love which makes us one.

There is a kind of love called maintenance
Which stores the WD40 and knows when to use it

Which checks the insurance, and doesnt forget

The milkman; which remembers to plant bulbs;
Which answers letters; which knows the way
The money goes; which deals with dentists

And Road Fund Tax and meeting trains,
And postcards to the lonely; which upholds

The permanently rickety elaborate
Structures of living, which is Atlas.

And maintenance is the sensible side of love,
Which knows what time and weather are doing
To my brickwork; insulates my faulty wiring;
Laughs at my dryrotten jokes; remembers
My need for gloss and grouting; which keeps
My suspect edifice upright in air,
As Atlas did the sky.

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