My name is Tracy Crisp and I established Vivimento in 2016. I am a writer and funeral celebrant living in Adelaide, South Australia.
People’s life stories are a rich and powerful gift. As a funeral celebrant, it is my great privilege to honour those stories by helping to create meaningful, individual funeral ceremonies.
Ever since my parents’ early deaths, I have been drawn to better understanding grief and the role that funerals can play in healthy mourning and grieving. I am especially interested in the real changes our society is making in our attitudes to death and our funeral practices. Death care at home, sustainable burials, DIY funerals — all of these are helping us first to make better sense of our own mortality and second to make peace with the deaths of people we love. At the same time, I have taken great comfort and seen much beauty in the rituals we have built. In my work, I want to help people create a funeral that is true to the spirit of a life as it was lived.
Both of my parents, but my mother especially, were great storytellers and I grew up knowing that stories help us to make sense of life and of each other. I believe that a funeral gives us a chance to tell the most important story of them all–the story of a person’s life and the role they have played in our own. This is a rich and powerful gift.
I first started studying to be a celebrant in 2008, but when my partner got offered a job in Abu Dhabi, I put those plans on hold and spent seven years in the Middle East. While there, I cared for my children, worked for an international humanitarian organisation, completed studies in psychology, and kept reading and writing about grief and mourning.
Moving back to Adelaide, I started work as a funeral assistant and I immediately knew that this was where I wanted to spend the rest of my working life: helping to create meaningful services that celebrate life, love and diversity while acknowledging the work of mourning and making space for healthy grieving.
My work as a celebrant is founded on the skills I have developed through my career as a writer and performer. I draw on my education in literature and psychology as well as my many life experiences. I am always looking at ways to extend my skills and knowledge. I have taken the wonderful residential course offered by Robyn O’Connell and am a regular participant in public speaking courses.
What Vivimento means
Vivimento is named in memory of my mother, Vivienne, who died in a car accident when she was 46.
My parents were both relatively young when they died and it has been hard work to make peace with their early deaths. My mum and dad were driven, generous and compassionate. They lived full, rich lives guided by equality, community and conviviality. Vivimento has grown from those principles.
My mother’s death was sudden and completely unexpected. She had none of the opportunities to make peace in the way that other people do, but she lived her last day being true to herself and to the values she held so strongly. The best way to explain what Vivimento means is to tell you something of that day.
The day that she died, my mum, a primary school and music teacher, took her school choir to a rehearsal of the region’s Combined Schools’ Choir. At that rehearsal, a teacher from another school suggested that during the choir’s performance not all the children should sing. They could be on stage, but they shouldn’t sing. My mother did not agree.
A little boy who was in Mum’s school choir sent us a card a few days after she died. He described the choir’s bus trip back to school. My mother said that everyone would sing.
He wrote: ‘Mrs. Crisp told us, Stick to your guns, kids.’
A few days after that, my dad, my brother and I went to watch the Combined Schools’ Choir perform.
And everybody sang.