We’re changing the conversation around death and dying to include life and living.


Our goal is to transform end-of-life planning into a rich opportunity for personal growth and community connection. 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?


Clients we’ve served

Via our tools and services, it’s our honour to collaborate with and support the work of inspiring organizations including: • BC Cancer Agency Patient and Family Counselling and Psychiatry • BC Notaries Association • Brock House Society, Services for Seniors • Canadian College of Funeral Services • Canadian Initiative for Elder Planning Studies • Canadian Memorial United Church and Centre for Peace • Canadian Association for Retired People Chapter #60 • City of Vancouver’s Mountain View Cemetery • Crossroads Hospice Society • Douglas College End of Life Doula Certificate Program • End of Life Doula Association of Canada • End of Life University • Family Services North Shore Companioning Community Care • Fitting Tribute Funeral Services • KORU Cremation | Burial | Ceremony • Memorial Society of BC • Quality of Life Care School of Accompanying the Dying • Pacific Spirit Community Health Centre, Home Hospice Palliative Care • Richer Health Consulting • Royal Oak Burial Park • St. Andrew’s United Church • Simon Fraser University Liberal Arts & 55+ Continuing Education • Surrey Hospice Society • Vancouver School of Theology Inter-Religious Studies • Wavefront Centre for Communication Accessibility, Seniors Program • Westcoast Wills & Estates • West End Seniors’ Network.

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 co-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.

Willow is pleased to be working with the team at Apples & Oranges Analytics and Marketing for all our marketing and digital needs. A & O works with organizations that create or foster culture, whether that be defined by social, spiritual or ethnic expressions.

Learn more about A & O or contact Co-Director Michael Despotovic at [email protected].

Willow respectfully acknowledges the land we work on does not belong to us. While this place where we reside and create is known as Vancouver, British Columbia, the truth is this land is the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territories of the Coast Salish People, including the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations.

Unceded means this land was never given, sold, or agreed upon to be shared—this land is unsurrendered. This is stolen land.

We acknowledge our traditional hosts and honour that they graciously welcome those of us who seek to learn, connect, rest and have right livelihood in this place. Why do we acknowledge “unceded territory”? Here’s a powerful answer from Verna McGregor, an Algonquin elder:

“It’s acknowledging that we’re still here, the acknowledgement is important—that we’re worthy of being on our own lands… there is a greater issue than what is going on today. It helps remind people that we are going back centuries in terms of what we’ve done to the Indigenous people—from the reserve system, the residential schools, to today with Indigenous children still being removed from their families at a greater rate than the rest of the population… The acknowledgment puts what’s happening today into a greater perspective to understand historical wrongs and how that’s manifested today. Part of reconciliation is truth and honesty.”

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