We Croak

March 25, 2019

I’m going to tell you about my favorite new app, in spite of fearing that you’ll think I’m too morbid. It’s called WeCroak and for a one-time cost of 99 cents, I get five randomly timed notifications to my phone each day, reminding me that I’m going to die. A notification appears on my screen that says, “Remember, you’re going to die. Swipe to see quote … ”


While going through hospice training 12 years ago, I began to learn the value of contemplating death. During the course, I was deeply and positively affected by thinking about my own mortality, but eventually, I slipped comfortably back into denial and happily distracted myself as is so easy to do.


WeCroak is based on a famous Bhutanese folk saying that to be a happy person one must contemplate death five times daily. It’s an excellent example of the economic “scarcity principle,” which is founded in the idea that the less you have of something, the more you value it.


On their site, they explain that, “You are encouraged to take one moment for contemplation, conscious breathing or meditation when WeCroak notifications arrive. We find that a regular practice of contemplating mortality helps spur needed change, accept what we must, let go of things that don’t matter and honor things that do.”

And it works. When I read my reminder, I’m compelled to give my 14-year-old golden retriever an extra long pet before I leave the house, I’m more thoughtful when communicating with my husband, and I’m more gentle with myself.


To give you an idea of the type of quotes that appear on the app, here’s one currently on my phone:

“If I take death into my life, acknowledge it, and face it squarely, I will free myself from the anxiety of death and the pettiness of life—and only then will I be free to become myself.”


As we let New Year’s resolutions dissolve into the background, and our resistance to change takes control of the reins yet again, the reminder of death compels us to square up with the resistance and say, “No more! I may not be here in 2019, I’m going to face my fears and finally accomplish this now. Carpe diem!”


I learned about this app in the January/February 2018 issue of The Atlantic magazine. The former executive tech editor of the Huffington Post, Bianca Bosker, reviewed it. Not only did the intent behind the app appeal to me, she also makes the point that many of the “mindfulness” apps out there today actually suck us deeper into time staring at our devices.


WeCroak doesn’t compel users to further burrow with awards for engagement and doesn’t ask to be shared to social media posts or with friends. It’s straightforward: a simple notification, swipe, read and when the next one comes, it’s gone forever.

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