At WILLOW, we’re changing the conversation

Our goal is to transform end of life planning into a rich opportunity for your personal growth and community connections. We want you to check things off your to-do list and we want you to learn, grow and even find joy in the process.

Yes, getting clear and communicating your priorities and wishes about your health and personal care, your legacy and after-death care planning as well as how you’ll be remembered, will foster your peace of mind and go a long way toward reducing anxiety, regret, and conflict.

And, we want the energy you devote to preparing for your inevitable death to make a difference to the richness of your life now.

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Questions are at the heart of what and how we do things at WILLOW.

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If you knew you had limited time to live:

  • How would the reality of your mortality impact the way you live, now?
  • What would you do?
  • How do you want to feel?
  • How would you share your most important life lessons?
  • What attention would you give to seeking, bestowing or accepting forgiveness?

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As a passionate lover of life, engaged and connected to your community:

  • What courageous conversations will you have?
  • What kind of goodbye ritual will reflect your authentic self?
  • What kind of ceremony can best support your grieving family and friends?
  • How will you continue to inspire people after you die?
  • What’s your legacy?

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While doing your best to live mindfully and walk lightly on our planet:

  • How can your health and personal care wishes express your holistic values?
  • What role might family and community led deathcare have in your planning?
  • How can you “green” all the choices associated with your death?
  • What is a green burial and what options exist in your community?
  • How can your death positively affect the planet?

 

Getting clear and communicating your priorities and wishes about your dying, your deathcare and how you’ll be remembered, will undoubtedly foster your peace of mind, prevent regret and go a long way toward reducing anxiety and conflict for those closest to you.

When you consciously contemplate and connect with others around the reality of your mortality, it will change how you die—and how you live, right here, right now, and for the rest of your life.

Why We’re Called Willow

Willow trees are diverse and ubiquitous at the same time; there are hundreds of willow tree species found throughout the world.

Willows are flexible, resilient, vigorous, regenerative, adaptive, useful, and beautiful.

Willows have healing properties. The tree bark is the source of salicylic acid, used in natural remedies and the active ingredient in the painkiller, Aspirin.

The classic graceful Weeping Willow is, in many cultures, a symbol of sorrow, mourning and even immortality. Willows evoke protection, movement and surrender.

Willows are soft and strong, able to thrive pretty much anywhere.

“The willow enables us to realize that within every loss lies the potential for something new.”
THE WISDOM OF TREES, JANE GIFFORD

Michelle Pante

Co-Founder

Michelle is energized by death, dying and grief as pathways to healing.

Prior to co-founding WILLOW, Michelle was a key player in the launch of the Green Burial Society of Canada, which took place during her tenure with LEES+Associates, North America’s crackerjack cemetery design and planning firm. She advocates for responsive, environmentally-sensitive funeral service and bereavement-care practices in all aspects of deathcare delivery. Michelle volunteered with a children’s bereavement program at a local hospice and is a licensed Funeral Director in the province of British Columbia. She apprenticed with a corporately-owned funeral home and with KORU Cremation | Burial | Ceremony, a pioneering locally-owned and operated funeral provider. Michelle helps families from diverse cultural, faith and income backgrounds to say their goodbyes, honour the circle of life and have courageous conversations. She has bachelor of art in sociology from the University of British Columbia, a bachelor of social work from McGill University and a master of business administration from the Schulich School of Business, York University. Earlier in her career, Michelle coordinated research and learning opportunities with the Arts and Health Project, Urban Development Institute, and Irish Museum of Modern Art.

Reena Lazar

Co-Founder

Reena is fuelled by her passion for personal growth + transformation.

Committed to lifelong personal development, Reena has an eclectic background and education. She is a graduate of the BEyond Yonder Virtual School of Community Deathcaring in Canada, a twelve-week course given by ten different experts on such topics as grief, disposition, rituals, body care, advance planning, being with the dying, and funeral alternatives. Reena is committed to facilitating green and holistic approaches to death-care in our families, communities and in our culture at large. Prior to co-founding WILLOW, she created and led Peace it Together, which brought Palestinian, Israeli and Canadian youth together for dialogue, filmmaking and community engagement. For 11 years Reena created and led emotionally-charged processes about the world’s most intractable conflict. She also taught conflict resolution for four years at Langara College as part of their peace and conflict studies concentration. Reena has a bachelor of architecture from McGill University and a masters in international affairs from Columbia University. She has completed many communication training courses throughout North America, including with the Centre for Conflict Resolution at the Justice Institute of British Columbia, and with the Compassionate Listening Project.

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