Five times a day, our phones ping, “Don’t forget, you’re going to die”, courtesy of an app called WeCroak. 

Jarring, we know, but according to a Bhutanese folk saying, one must contemplate death five times a day to find true happiness in lifeAnd this wisdom is the basis of the app, as it provides these reminders, each with a death-related quote. But can WeCroak succeed where numerous self-help books and life influencers have failed?

[Image description: WeCroak is a smartphone app created by the team of Hansa Bergwall and Ian Thomas.] via Sinisa Jolic/CBC
[Image description: WeCroak is a smartphone app created by the team of Hansa Bergwall and Ian Thomas.] via Sinisa Jolic/CBC
As the Lookbook and Life Editors at The Tempest (Iman Saleem and Sana Panjwani, at your service!), we decided to use WeCroak for a few weeks. Here are our thoughts on the ways daily death meditation impacted our lives.

We took on the task of facing our mortality head-on to find out whether thinking about death would change the way we lived. 

How often did we think about death before we started using WeCroak? 

IMAN SALEEM:

I am whatever the total opposite of morbid is – I literally never think about death. I’ve had people close to me who have died, but I just accepted that it happens whether or not you think about it, so I might as well save myself the brain space. I am a little bit afraid of death, but in the same way that you fear abstract concepts, like failure – the less you know about the specifics, the easier it is to ignore the fear. 

SANA PANJWANI:

Death has been a constant in my life, but never in a way that deeply impacted it. I don’t remember ever questioning why people die or where they go. I just accepted it because life is unfair and unkind at times. 


So, why download it?

IMAN:

I was very curious, and I liked the idea of learning about new concepts and thoughts. It’s a fun idea, to get a little quote 5 times a day, even if they’re all about death.

Am I hanging too much hope on a $0.99 app? 

I initially read about the app in an article where the author mentioned that the reminders helped her regain some perspective and look at the bigger picture, especially when she tended to get caught up in the small stuff. My expectations were similar to what she described – just to remember what was really important.

SANA: 

I enjoy engaging with the unorthodox. So, when I first heard about an app that claims to push you into living by contemplating death, my interest piqued.

“The whole future lies in uncertainty: live immediately.” – Seneca, WeCroak

However, the real reason I downloaded it was because I’m constantly on the search for something to change the way I live, to better it, to evolve. And that’s where my expectations lay – in looking to elevate my life.


What was the initial experience like?

IMAN:

I was excited, although I tended to totally ignore the death reminder and interpret the accompanying quote however which way I wanted to. Sometimes, if the quotes were too long or not initially compelling, I ignored them. I feel like whoever chose the quotes wouldn’t be offended though.  Life is too short to waste reading things I don’t like. I’m going to die, remember?

The quotes were usually a welcome distraction from my everyday life, and I like being able to think about something every couple of hours that’s bigger than my work or my worries.

SANA:

The day I downloaded it, I waited for the first notification in tense anticipation. What will it say? How will it make me feel? Will it flick a switch inside me? Light a fire? Am I hanging too much hope on a $0.99 app? 

I do tend to think a little bit harder now about how I spend my time, and what experiences will truly fulfill me.

The moment came and passed, and I remained unchanged. The waiting period ahead of it, though, did leave its mark. The fact that I was waiting for a death quote made me think about dying; human impermanence; there might be no tomorrow.

I asked myself – why am I delaying ticking off experiences I’d pushed to “one day”? The next day, I got my nose pierced. Now, I’m planning a trip + curating a tattoo-centric Pinterest board… because why not?

WeCroak's quotes come from artists, poets, spiritualists, films, among many other sources. (Sinisa Jolic/CBC)
WeCroak’s quotes come from artists, poets, spiritualists, films, among many other sources. (Sinisa Jolic/CBC)

Do we think the app had any lasting effects?

IMAN:

I do tend to think a little bit harder now about how I spend my time, and what experiences will truly fulfill me or add something to my life. While a lot of my outlook and attitudes have changed in the months since downloading it, I do wonder how much credit belongs to WeCroak and how much of it is just general early-twenties-emotional-growth.

I also screenshot quotes that I really love and they all live together in an album on my phone that I look through whenever I need emotional bolstering.

SANA:

I can’t say for sure but I can’t dismiss it either. I believe it’s subtle, the kind that takes root in the back of your mind and affects your subconscious, pushing you to make certain decisions that you might not have before the app (see: nose piercing).

I still never think about death, despite getting five daily notifications.

I will say I quickly became indifferent to WeCroak. Within the span of two weeks, it devolved to yet another push notification. Honestly, it would just pop up at inopportune times most of the day which, yes is what death does, but I guess this is my way of saying that I don’t have time for death.


Do we think about death differently now?

IMAN:

I still never think about death, despite getting five daily notifications declaring its imminence. I don’t know how my brain manages to gloss over the ‘death’ part, but I generally just interpret the quotes as reminders to live my best life. So death and I are still exactly where we started: distant, but mutually respectful.

SANA:

If the nose piercing story is anything to go by, I’ve definitely become more appreciative of life’s impermanence. However, I find it ironic that in my quest to live fuller, I’m chasing experiences which have a higher mortality rate.

“Don’t be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson, WeCroak

So, while WeCroak didn’t change my relationship with death, I will credit it with changing my relationship with life.


Final verdict: would we recommend the app?

IMAN:

If you’re generally quite morbid or prone to existential crises, WeCroak really isn’t the app for you. If you are, however, like me, and generally just ignore your own mortality, this will be a little reminder of it that’s not too harsh but will leave you with something to think about.

SANA:

Death is inevitable, yet we live like there’s always a tomorrow. We get wrapped up in life but not the life we should be living, relatively speaking. It becomes an endless rut of far too many moments that don’t matter and not enough of those that do. 

So, in that sense, WeCroak serves as a reminder that we should try for more, do more, live more. Even if you – like me – don’t pause to reflect on the quotes being shared, the push notification alone is a helpful reminder to take a pause and engage in some internal alignment. 

Ask yourself, what matters in the end? Get WeCroak here for $0.99.


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Sana Panjwani

By Sana Panjwani

Senior Now+ BEYOND Editor // Assistant Pop Culture Editor

Iman Saleem

By Iman Saleem

Assistant Lookbook Editor