How will you continue
to inspire people after you die?
Press + Media
Compassionate, creative, insightful, and able to cut through the chaos to achieve clarity, 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.
A creative thinker, compassionate listener and a facilitator of peace on every level, 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. 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.
You are free to use the below photos with our and the photographer’s permission as long as you include the photographer’s credit and send us a link at [email protected] to where they are being used.
Death Goes Digital: How Tech is Breathing New Life into the Business of Death
The loss of a loved one can be one of the most distressing experiences in one’s life, with COVID-19 only exacerbating the grief caused in planning a memorial. Thankfully, the revolutionary realm of death tech has evolved to offer more compassionate, accessible, and even environmentally sustainable measures to help streamline and destigmatize the end-of-life planning process.
This is their 300th podcast, and Willow’s 3rd interview with End-0f-Life University.
This episode includes:
- How COVID accelerated the development of the EOL Educators Program
- Why EOL education is so important right now
- What inspired Michelle and Reena to create this program
- Who can benefit from becoming a Willow EOL Educator
- What the program includes
- How participants can tailor their own workshops using Willow’s materials
- How this program augments other training programs and does not compete or preclude any other system
In August 2020, Lynn Thompson was looking on the web for something, she is not sure what, and found Willow. She was inspired by the depth and scope of material about end-of-life planning that Willow offers. Good timing to support her project of creating detailed directives for her inevitable end of life. Reena and Michelle welcomed the opportunity to share more about Willow in this forty-minute conversation with Lynn.
The World’s Video Wiki
Willow has been included in a video wiki “Organizations Helping People With End-Of-Life Planning & Care. The video highlights Willow’s numerous offerings including our resources, workshops, and guides focused on helping people find peace and renewed purpose while preparing for death.
CBC The National
Would you share a grave? CBC picked up the story of new Vancouver, BC bylaw changes, interviewing Reena Lazar of Willow EoL to share her perspective. Many of Willow’s friends were also interviewed such as Glen Hodges of Mountain View Cemetery.
We spoke on death education and end-of-life planning/resources. Included in this clip are many other people in the community, including Glen from Mountain View Cemetery. This broadcast aired on Nov 11th and is narrated in Cantonese. Our interview starts at 3:08.
End of Life University
Karen invited us back to her podcast for episode 213 to discuss why people should think in advance about the legacy they will leave behind, how to create a meaningful legacy for your loved ones, what steps baby boomers need to take now to be better prepared for the end of life, 9 things to include in an end-of-life plan, and more.
Senior Living Magazine
We wrote a piece entitled “Connect with Who and What Matter Most” about how the finite nature of life can serve to wake us up before our time’s up so we connect with who and what matters most.
Richer Health Podcast
We were interviewed for the podcast, “Eat Real to Heal” on episode 17 entitled “From Labia to Living to Dying: We explore the reality of your mortality with WILLOW End of Life (EOL) experts, Reena and Michelle.”
Global Soul Movement
We were interviewed by Tal Shai as part of her inaugural Global Soul Movement mentoring circle. Listen in as we dive deep with Tal and talk about our approach to using death as a tool for living and loving fully.
Willow is delighted to be keeping such fine company. “From DIY funeral services to death doulas, B.C. is on the leading edge of a trend that wants to make death a part of life, and a better experience for everyone. Meet the women leading the trend.”Read Article
Reena and Michelle were interviewed about WILLOW’s Mexico Retreat by EOL University’s Dr. Karen Wyatt, Hospice Physician, Award-Winning Author and Educator.
Recording is 69min and begins at 7min.
The United Church Observer
In this article, Pieta Woolley discusses 5 ways to die with more than just ‘dignity’, and speaks to Willow’s Departure Directions workshop and how creating Departure Directions can help bring peace of mind.Read Article
The United Church Observer
In an article about Don Grayston’s philosophy of a good death, Pieta Woolley interviewed Reena and Michelle and reports on her experience attending a Departure Directions workshop.
The Whole Family Happiness Project
Read Michelle’s interview with Lola Augustine Brown of The Whole Family Happiness Project. Michelle talks about her journey to becoming a funeral director and then shifting gears to join forces with Reena to launch WILLOW.Read Article
Uncomfortable, the Podcast
Michelle + Reena speak to Debbie Roche host of Uncomfortable, the Podcast (formally DebTalks). They discuss our collective fears around the conversations surrounding death and dying and how contemplating our inevitable death will help us lead a more inspired life. (55 mins).
Michelle speaks with Stirling Faux of Vancouver’s Roundhouse Radio about the fears around death and how facing it through holistic end of life planning can lead to a more inspired life (10 mins).Listen Now
Deep Roots, Cortes Community Radio
Michelle + Reena join Mercedes Grant for a conversation on death and how we can overcome our fears surrounding the subject (29 mins. Michelle + Reena are first heard at 11:15 min).Listen Now