Meet our founder


Hi 👋🏻,

My name is Maura McInerney-Rowley, and I founded Memento Mori to normalize talking about and preparing for end-of-life because the way our society handles death, dying, and grief is broken.

As a former wedding planner turned death doula with experience in early-stage startups and venture capital, I love creating meaningful experiences and building innovative solutions.

When I'm not working on Memento Mori, I enjoy snowboarding, trying new TikTok recipes, browsing homes on Zillow I can’t afford, playing with my nephew, and talking about death!

My first memory of my mom, Maureen, being sick was when I was six years old.

March, 1996

















October, 2005

I walked across the hall to my parent's bedroom to get my coloring book. As I opened the door, I saw my mom lying in bed. She didn't look like her usual energetic self; she looked tired and in pain. My mom had been diagnosed with breast cancer and undergone a mastectomy.

After almost a decade of being cancer free (and a series of medical challenges and misdiagnosis), my mom’s breast cancer had returned, spread, and eaten into her spine.

This was a challenging time for our family. I recall many evenings when my godmother Kris would come over to help me with my homework because I was struggling to focus, distracted by the sound of my mother getting sick from her chemo treatments.
 

Whether by infusion, pill, or combination, my mother would receive chemotherapy for the rest of her life, but she hid it well. My mom was a badass, so it's no surprise that she had a survivor mentality. Still, sometimes I wonder if cancer "survivor mentality" in our society is partly to blame for why I never fully accepted she had a terminal diagnosis, to begin with.

In high school, I remember attending one of my mom's chemo appointments with her and her doctor told me that he called my mom "Miracle Maureen" because she had done really well on a treatment that only works for a small percentage of people. From that moment on, although I knew my mom would eventually die, I naively never thought it would be from cancer. She had made it this far; why not the rest of her life?

April - August, 2011

A few years passed, and I started to gain a sense of normalcy. However, that sense of “normalcy” quickly changed during the spring of my sophomore year in college when my grandmother died. That summer, my uncle died, and in the fall, at the start of my junior year in college, I received a phone call that would change my life forever.

October, 2011

I still remember it like it was yesterday. I was on my way to class when my phone rang. I picked it up, and all I remember hearing on the other line was, "you need to come home. Mom is dying."

I crawled like an infant to the nearest object that would block me from the view of my peers passing on their way to class. I crouched behind a dumpster crying my eyes out, as I sat rocking myself back and forth in the fetal position for what seemed like hours.

Only two weeks had passed between the time I got that phone call and when we held my mother's funeral. They were simultaneously the fastest and slowest two weeks of my life. While I am incredibly grateful that I could be by my mother's side to say goodbye at the time of her death, I felt completely unprepared and overwhelmed during the entire experience.

October 2011 - July 2021

I spent the next decade in and out of processing my grief. Sometimes dealing with it head-on and sometimes using substances to numb the pain. I was not ok but pretended like I was because I didn't know what else to do, and society expected me to return to normal after a few months.

August, 2021

Fast forward to ten years later, about a week and a half before starting my second year of business school, I was attending a wedding where I was asked to read a poem about lost loved ones. The poem was significant to the bride and me, as we had bonded over having both lost parents in our early 20s.

Tragically the poem would take on a deeper meaning when on the morning of the wedding, we learned a guest (one of the bride and groom's friends from college) had unexpectedly died the night before. The shocking and abrupt nature of this death, juxtaposed with a wedding, had my head spinning about how the deceased's family would handle logistics. And it occurred to me that while they are entirely different events on different timelines, there are many similarities between planning a wedding and a funeral.

I left for a backpacking trip in Alaska the day after the wedding. Hiking up a rock face in Denali, with no cell service or internet to distract me from my thoughts, I came across a tiny purple flower being whipped back and forth by the rain. I couldn’t believe that this little flower, growing out of the rockface, was so resilient and able to survive so high up on the mountain with no other life in sight.


The next day, I had a very close call when I slipped in the mud going downhill and nearly fell off the face of the mountain due to the weight of my 60lb backpack. Causing me to pause again and reflect on how fleeting life can be. On the last day of the trip, I hiked 7 miles out on a badly sprained ankle and flew home to Ann Arbor for my first day of classes less than 24 hours later. That Monday morning, I attended my New Venture Creation Class, and the concept for Memento Mori was born.

What's the meaning behind Memento Mori?

The idea of Memento Mori has a long history. Many cultures and civilizations have referenced it throughout the centuries. "Memento Mori" means "remember that you will die" in Latin.

However, the point of this reminder isn't to be morbid or promote fear but to remind people of their mortality and the impermanence of life. Contemplating and repeating the phrase is a tool to help you create meaning and purpose in life.

In fact, studies show that talking about your mortality makes you happier, healthier, and even funnier!

Memento Mori is here to help guide you through end-of-life planning with curiosity and compassion. 

Provide a deeper understanding of death, dying and, ultimately, clarity of life purpose

Built by families, for families.

Memento Mori offers an easier and engaging way to design, document, and discuss end-of-life wishes.

Our goal is to normalize talking about and planning for end-of-life, so we can alleviate some of the burdens for you and your loved ones by preparing ahead.

If you're thinking to yourself...

"I'm young and healthy, I don't need to plan yet"

"I don't care what happens to me / or my family will take care of it."

"There's no point because I don't own anything of value."

Then you're missing the point.

Why make an end-of-life plan?

Why plan? By nature, we are planners, and we plan for everything!

We make a list for the grocery store and plan what to wear on a date. We plan birthday parties, weddings, and vacations. We prepare for college, births, and retirement. Yet most of us don’t want to think about or plan for death. Being proactive about planning is essential because we genuinely don’t know what will happen when. 

Consider this...

01

Consideration 1

Feature one

As parents, you leave detailed instructions for a babysitter during the few hours or days you will be away from home.

Yet, 68% of Americans do not have a will outlining a guardian for their children or how they should be cared for. As a parent, you are responsible for ensuring that your children are taken care of if something happens to you.

02

Consideration 2

Feature two

As someone with parents over 65, you might have witnessed changes in their health with aging. Your parent(s) will soon need to prepare for lifestyle adjustments and how their living situation might change due to new or worsening health issues.

However, you probably haven't discussed their end-of-life wishes. Do you know if they want to be buried or cremated? Do you know who their medical power of attorney is? Do you know what their ideal death looks like? Despite 80% of Americans wanting to die at home, only 20% do, and most families are unprepared to take on the caregiver role. Please don't wait any longer to plan for the inevitable. Take control to ensure your loved ones are cared for, their stories are recorded, and their values are honored.

03

Consideration 3

Feature three

Are you retired or nearing retirement? Congratulations, you're about to or are experiencing some well-deserved time off! While we all hope to live long and healthy lives, life is fleeting and unpredictable. That's why creating an end-of-life plan is imperative.

When you die, your loved ones must make tough decisions about medical care, funeral arrangements, and financial matters. By creating an end-of-life plan, you can give them the peace of mind that comes with knowing they are carrying out your wishes. We know these topics can be challenging to discuss, but having these conversations and making a plan is essential. Don't leave your loved ones in the dark - take action today and create an end-of-life plan. It is a responsible and compassionate way to protect your family and yourself.

01

Consideration 1

Feature one

As parents, you leave detailed instructions for a babysitter during the few hours or days you will be away from home.

Yet, 68% of Americans do not have a will outlining a guardian for their children or how they should be cared for. As a parent, you are responsible for ensuring that your children are taken care of if something happens to you.

02

Consideration 2

Feature two

As someone with parents over 65, you might have witnessed changes in their health with aging. Your parent(s) will soon need to prepare for lifestyle adjustments and how their living situation might change due to new or worsening health issues.

However, you probably haven't discussed their end-of-life wishes. Do you know if they want to be buried or cremated? Do you know who their medical power of attorney is? Do you know what their ideal death looks like? Despite 80% of Americans wanting to die at home, only 20% do, and most families are unprepared to take on the caregiver role. Please don't wait any longer to plan for the inevitable. Take control to ensure your loved ones are cared for, their stories are recorded, and their values are honored.

03

Consideration 3

Feature three

Are you retired or nearing retirement? Congratulations, you're about to or are experiencing some well-deserved time off! While we all hope to live long and healthy lives, life is fleeting and unpredictable. That's why creating an end-of-life plan is imperative.

When you die, your loved ones must make tough decisions about medical care, funeral arrangements, and financial matters. By creating an end-of-life plan, you can give them the peace of mind that comes with knowing they are carrying out your wishes. We know these topics can be challenging to discuss, but having these conversations and making a plan is essential. Don't leave your loved ones in the dark - take action today and create an end-of-life plan. It is a responsible and compassionate way to protect your family and yourself.

Perhaps you've done some planning.

Maybe you’ve thought about whether you want to be buried or cremated, but there is so much more for loved ones to know and make decisions on.

If you have more than one family member to make these decisions, odds are they won’t all agree. Getting people to agree on where to have dinner or what movie to see is hard enough. Imagine getting everyone to agree on important decisions like what to do with your belongings, and where to scatter your cremains. 

Let's embrace death. Together.

Say hello by shooting me an email or by finding a time to chat about how Memento Mori can serve you.