Southeast WI Archive
  • Southeast Wisconsin
  • April 2015
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Jane takes her final plans into her own hands — Northwoods Casket Company’s mission makes funeral preplanning an easy decision

“Death is a challenge. It tells us not to waste time... It tells us to tell each other right now that we love each other.” —Leo Buscalgia

I truly enjoy telling my friends and family how much they mean to me. I do this in a lot of ways: saying “I love you” often, sending a quote that I think will build someone up or randomly hugging them throughout the day. I never considered preplanning my funeral to be in the category of ways to show care to my loved ones, not to mention that thinking about death is intimidating and a bit uneasy for me.

I’m not married, not yet thirty and have no children. I’m in an “in-between” stage of my life. A lot of my future is undecided, and I still hold the hint of the idea that I’m invincible (the one that everyone feels when they’re young); only now it’s matched with the realities of life all around me. While I want to live a long, healthy and fulfilled life, I know accidents happen and surprises, both good and bad, show up when you least expect them.

My journey in taking my future into my own hands and preplanning my funeral began at Northwoods Casket Company’s beautiful and inviting gallery in Beaver Dam. They’re open to giving tours, and after I was shown around the building, I understood why. The whole philosophy behind their products is that they use sustainable materials, nothing harmful. Being able to see the caskets in different phases drove home the idea that they are doing things the old-fashioned way. They use lumber and craftsmen from all over the state of Wisconsin, and they plant 100 trees for every casket they build.

If you participate in their Plant It Forward campaign and pledge to use a Northwoods casket, they will plant those trees the next spring or fall. I love the idea of knowing that my choice is making a tangible difference in Wisconsin while I’m alive.

When I arrived at the gallery, I met with owner Jonas Zahn before I met with my funeral director, and I couldn’t recommend this more. He answered questions about his own experience in preplanning his funeral and made it feel like the most natural decision in the world. I was very naïve when it came to the logistical process, and I felt like I walked away really understanding how the next steps would go.

I chose the Old World casket in the Copper Canyon finish. Each casket is accompanied by a short and witty description, which made the process more approachable and even enjoyable to me. There was something lighthearted about it that made me feel comfortable. When I read my casket’s physical description, I knew it was the perfect fit: “Simple in its construction technique, yet complex with elegant geometry” is the epitome of my everyday style. They have something for everyone, and it doesn’t just stop at caskets.

I was also shown customizable pillows and overlays, which are pieces of fabric used to cover the bottom half of the casket. There were a variety of patterns, including sports, fishing and flowers. I smiled to myself knowing that there were several people in my life who would love the Green Bay Packers theme. It warmed my heart thinking about how important personal touches are to a funeral, which made the meeting with my funeral director less intimidating.

One thing that immediately put my mind at ease is the fact that when you preplan your funeral, those plans aren’t written in stone. Because I don’t believe I’m in a permanent phase of my life, I don’t know exactly where I’ll end up or who may be in my life when I pass. I was nervous about choosing a funeral home, cemetery and even a casket. Both Jonas and my funeral director assured me that if I change my mind about something, it’s perfectly natural and an easy change. As long as my wishes are written down, my family and friends will know what’s truly important to me when it comes to my end-of-life plans.

I realized during this process how important it is to me to help my loved ones as much as I can when I pass away, and preplanning my funeral was the perfect step to show them how much I care about them — even after I’m gone.

To pledge to preplan your funeral and Plant It Forward, visit:

Northwoods Casket Company

109 N. Lincoln Ave, Beaver Dam


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