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.
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.
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.
Questions are at the heart of what we do.
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 would you want to feel?
- How would you share your most important life lessons?
- What attention would you give to seeking, bestowing or accepting forgiveness?
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?
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?
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. They 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.
Michelle Pante, Co-Founder
Michelle is energized by death, dying and grief as pathways to healing.
Michelle 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. 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 has also volunteered with a children’s bereavement program at a local hospice and is passionate about helping families 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.
Reena Lazar, Co-Founder
Reena is fueled by her passion for personal growth and 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, taught by ten experts on grief, disposition, rituals, body care, advance planning, being with the dying, and funeral alternatives. 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. Her work was published in the New York Times, Globe and Mail, and Readers Digest. 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.
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