Willow is Changing the Conversation around Death and Dying to Include Life and Living


Questions are at the heart of what we do.

You will see these questions across all Willow material, probing you to think about and do things that you may never have done or thought about before. While getting your affairs in order, Willow invites you to reflect on the meaning of your life (and death), who you are, what you stand for, and how you wish to be remembered. Start planning for the end and living your best life today.

Q: If you knew you had limited time to live…

  • How would contemplating 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? 

A: Your mortality is an opportunity in disguise.

And when you consciously contemplate the finite and precious nature of your life, it will wake you up to appreciate who and what matter most now.

Willow’s Reality of Our Mortality Planning Checklist, is a holistic approach to end-of-life planning that begins with making sense of life and death. The topics move beyond the purely pragmatic to include emotions and relationships. This is a great tool to begin your journey into contemplating your mortality and getting you into action.

Making Sense of Life and Death, a self taught program will help you do just that.

7 Tools for Making Sense of Life & Death®

The self-guided, online program will facilitate your personal-discovery process  and provide the essential foundation for all your pragmatic end-of-life planning.
It will help you base your end-of-life planning on your values, priorities and beliefs and lay the groundwork for you to be as prepared as possible for your inevitable death and inspire you to live your remaining life with purpose and intention.

Get Instant Access

5 Steps for Successful End-of-Life Planning Conversations®

For guidance on how to have successful EOL planning conversations, use this 8-page, fillable end-of-life-planning training resource to set your intention, identify your concerns, create context and explain the importance of your conversation, and finally, reflect.

Learn more

Q: 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?

A: Your mortality is an opportunity in disguise.

In addition to providing a sense of peace at the end of life for you and those you leave behind, every aspect of your end-of-life planning is an opportunity for personal growth and personal and community connection. 

Willow’s 5 Steps for Successful End of Life Planning Conversations helps you address the taboo topic with your loved ones easily.

A Brief on Grief and Mourning is a fact sheet that will open your eyes to the importance and healing power of the natural process of grief and mourning.

Willow’s How to Write Your Heart Will tool will help you share your story and your life’s most important lessons. Your Heart Will can be read at a goodbye ritual like a funeral, wake or celebration of life, or it can be passed on with other important keepsakes.

Willow’s 5-Minute Legacy Love Letter tool will guide you to write lasting messages to important people in your life, and strengthen those relationships even before the recipient receives the letter.

Q: 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?

A: All that matters in the end, matters now.

Planning for the end will also illuminate what is important to you and how you want to live and die true to your values.

Departure Directions is Willow’s term for your written guidelines—determined by your values, beliefs and priorities—for how you wish to be cared for and remembered after you die. 9 Things to Include in Your Departure Directions provides a template from which you can consider all aspects of your after-death care. Learn more.

9 Things to Include in Your Departure Directions

This free tool provides a template from which you can build your Departure Directions. The nine headings will ensure that you consider all aspects of your after-death care, including sharing the news of your death, roles for your loved ones to make it meaningful for them, expenses and logistics and more.

Download free

Our Story: Willow End-of-Life

Education and Planning

Willow’s Origin Story

After being friends for almost 20 years, co-founders, Reena Lazar and Michelle Pante came together because of their common passion to use end-of-life education as a pathway to growth and healing for individuals, communities and the planet.

Michelle was on a journey to becoming a funeral director and Reena had just wound up 11 years of a peace-building project called Peace it Together, which brought Palestinian, Israeli and Canadian youth together for dialogue filmmaking and community engagement.

Alone our reach is limited. Together we can transform more lives.

Reena and Michelle began their venture by creating tools and workshops to change the experience of both living and dying. After getting rave reviews by the general public, they were quickly sought after by health authorities, hospices and palliative care service providers, spiritual centers, cemeteries, funeral providers, legal firms and conference organizers. 

Knowing that alone their reach and impact would be limited, they created the Willow EOL Educator™ Program to ease the way for others who are passionate about transformative end-of-life education, planning and care to use the Willow materials in their own practices and communities. 

Willow's tools are now being used throughout the world by the general public of all ages, for staff learning and development, and to enhance professional development and training for end-of-life practitioners and professionals.

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.

Land Acknowledgement

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.”