Your Mortality is an Opportunity in Disguise

by , | Oct 24, 2016

Earlier this year, we both spent time actively being with the fact that we’re going to die and we don’t know when; could be tomorrow, could be next week, or 37 years from now. It changed our lives.

We each wrote a Heart Will to be read at our end-of-life rituals, and Love Letters to our respective school-aged daughters to have when we die. The impact on us continues to be profound. Reena finds herself gushing with acknowledgements and expressions of gratitude to people around her and about everyday events, not something she ever did with abundance before. As a result she finds life to be so much brighter and lighter!

When writing her love letter to her daughter, Michelle asked herself, “What have I learned in my 48 years that will help this 10-year-old girl navigate her life, no matter what age she is when I die?” This process of letter writing helped Michelle uncover and crystallize one of her core truths; a truth that now calls her to account every day:

“I am my own best friend and my own worst enemy. It’s my relationship with myself not with anyone else that needs attention, tenderness and care.”

We launched Willow with the radical goal of transforming the often-fragmented process of what is usually called “advanced planning” into a rich opportunity for personal growth and transformation. We want people to use that opportunity of getting clear and communicating their pragmatic and prosaic wishes about all matters ‘end of life’ — health and personal care, financial and legal matters, deathcare and funerals, legacy and remembering — to make a difference to the richness of their lives now no matter their age or state of health.

We’re all going to die, and we don’t know when. If you’ve experienced the death of someone close to you, then alongside your sorrow, or perhaps even your relief, you may have felt a force to renew or change something in your life. People in their dying days often speak of experiencing enormous growth and transformation while contemplating death. If death can provide this, so too can the conscious contemplation of your mortality. Let’s make our mortality work for us.

Your mortality is an opportunity in disguise.
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Our core desire is to inspire personal reflection and action that will touch, move and inspire you, or make you stop and wonder, and perhaps even reconsider. ​With every cell in our bodies, we believe ​that contemplating your inevitable and unpredictable death can actually light up and enrich your life, now.​

Use our free downloads to reflect on your life and write your own lasting messages to those you love: Five-Minute Love Letter Exercise and How to Write Your Heart Will Guide.

What about you?

What gifts has death brought your way?


  • The death of my mother put me on a road to self discovery and healing.

    • Thanks for this comment Farzana. I relate on some level – the death of my unborn babes propelled me along a healing path like no other. May we all discover and heal as best we can.

  • This is so beautifully written and an important message of how re-framing and embracing our mortality can give us the opportunity to leave a legacy of love instead of a legacy of pain. You know my mantra; plan your life, plan your death, then just Love Your Life to Death. Thank you, ladies, for all that you do to help make that possible for many.

  • Death of loved ones have been a series of stepping stones from my teen years to today. Death has propelled me on a journey of discovering what is the meaning of death; why my young friends at early ages and what do I truly believe about “life after death”. Mine has been a life living with death which has made my life all the richer. I have been shaped and guided to become a more attentive, more compassionate, and most importantly more loving person. It has led me to become a celebrant to help guide people through the process of celebrating their loved ones lives. Death has also ensured that I live in a constant state of gratitude for all I have now, have had in the past and will have in the future. Thank you for this opportunity to reflect.

  • Death has taught me to live each day and appreciate the glory that life is. It is true, we never know when our time will be up, but I do believe that there is an after life and we will all meet again.

    • Thank you so much, Lisa for your insight. I agree that bearing witness to death or contemplating our own, can make life brighter and lighter. And who knows what is on the other side?

  • On March 21, 2011, I went to emergency because my heart felt funny. I was pretty sure I had the flu but at 55 didn’t want to ignore my heart. After a couple hours there, the doctor came in and said “we have a serious diagnosis for you. You have leukemia and you’re going to die if we don’t treat you right away”. I spent 7 months in hospital, often in a life threatening crisis (coding, bleeding, numerous infections, dealing with leukemia and chemo). That’s almost 6 years ago. I’m cancer free and I have post cancer fatigue that has been amplified this year with numerous infections. The fatigue has become severe. It has been a time of hardship and blessings. Indeed fatigue has forced some growth on me that I would never have figured out any other way. One gift is that I was not frightened of dying in the hospital. I had always thought that I wasn’t afraid of dying but then wondered how true that would be once I was there. I just wasn’t afraid. I knew I had a 30% chance of survival, I knew I had a lot of things going wrong. My doctor told me later that they didn’t think I was going to make it. So, I wasn’t in denial about it, I just wasn’t frightened. It feels to me that death is just going home. So, that’s a little bit of my story. I look forward to reading more from you.

    • That little bit of your story moves me to tears Arlene. What a shock you must have had. It’s so interesting that your intuition about your relationship to your mortality was spot on. I’m curious to know more about the gifts of fatigue. I find it hard to be with my fatigue and distress. Thank you for sharing so openly. I love that there is such a rich flow of story inside these posts. Do you have the energy to make use of the free How to Write your Heart Will Guide? Love, Michelle

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