News and Events
Helke Staff Serve Dinner for the Needy
Helke Funeral Home staff helped feed 128 meals to the needy at St. Paul’s United Church of Christ Community Dinner. Local businesses and churches partner with St. Paul’s Church for their weekly dinner serving anywhere from 75 to 130 meals every Tuesday. The meal was prepared by Helke staff and served to individuals ranging from 4 to 75 years old. The staff saw increased numbers in children and young adults, some homeless and others who considered this their night out. Helke has supported this event for numerous years.
Essay Contest Winners
"Why I Believe It's Important To Always Have A Funeral"
Youth 1st Place: Scott Swanson
Youth 2nd Place: Lisa Duranso
Adult 1st Place: Lanette J. Arneson
Adult 2nd Place: Rev. David Faulkner
First Place Award $100 Second Place Award $50
Why I Believe It’s Important To Always Have a Funeral, Lanette J. Arneson
I personally have lost both my parents and I never even thought NOT to have a funeral for them. It provides closure and also is a tribute to them and their memory. It allows you a time and place to come together with others in a celebration of their life. They deserve that you the “loved ones” need that more than you realize at that time. When death happens to your loved one, you are not thinking clearly, no matter how prepared you may feel you are. My father was the first of my parents to pass and my mother immediately went into the funeral planning mode- it was a natural part of grieving for her and for my sister and I. She planned for a two day funeral-the first night a visitation and prayer service at the funeral home and the second day a church service followed by a meal. I can’t imagine not having either of those timed to say good-bye to my parents. As children, we never questioned whether or not there would be a funeral. When my father passed, (I being in my early 20’s), I felt so good about knowing that I had two days to try to say good-bye. When I left the funeral home, knowing I had the next day to again see him; it gave me immense peace inside. Even though he was gone, in a sense he was not. I could still spend that time with him. Even then, I realized that time would be priceless. When my mother (20 years later) received a diagnosis of incurable cancer, she, my sister and I began planning her funeral. We never questioned her choice in this; it was the same as for my father. Since my parents passing, those whom attended have made comments how memorable their funerals were. Whether you choose to have a one or two day funeral people are sometimes more comfortable attending one or the other. Often times people prefer attending both times. Without a funeral there are people such as friends, relatives, and acquaintances that have not seen that person for a very long time. Often times their death is a complete shock and surprise. Having a funeral is definitely a chance to say goodbye to someone that you will never see again-till we meet in Heaven. I would encourage everyone to make the right choice-have a funeral for that special person you so deeply car for. When have you ever heard anyone say “Why did that person have a funeral?” They instead say “Why didn’t that person have a funeral? I wanted to say farewell to them, I wanted to see them one last time.” It provides closure and comfort to all those who were able to attend that loved one’s funeral. It is a decision, made in a very short time, which results in leaving you with a lifetime of everlasting peace and contentment for everyone involved.
Why I Believe It’s Important To Always Have a Funeral, Rev. Dr. David Faulkner
I am a Christian pastor so my first purpose in officiating at a member’s funeral is to preach the comfort of the Good News of Jesus Christ to the family and friends of the deceased. This Good News is simply that God the Father so loved the whole world that He willingly gave His only Son up to death to pay for the sins of all mankind, that all who believe in the Son and His sacrifice for sin will live eternally in heaven.
At a Christian funeral the survivors hear from the Bible the joy the Christian faith gives believers even in the middle of sadness and the grief of death. A funeral is the place where the deceased is commended into God’s eternal care by their family and friends. The living can do nothing more for our loved ones, but trust in God’s grace, mercy, and promise of everlasting life. It is not the place or time for arguments among family members, but a time to come together.
The funeral service will remind the hearers to face their own death even if they are young and healthy. It should remind then to make plans for their own funeral and not leave their spiritual and early treasures in doubt. Everyone will die and as a Christian pastor I want the members of my church to die “well,” meaning to die with a confidence in their Savior with no fear of death. The funeral should convince the loved ones that death is not the end or their loved one’s life, but the sad end result of sin which is buried in Christ Jesus’ death so that we might live eternally. Just as God has given us a heavenly inheritance, a funeral reminds us to plan to pass on our earthly wealth to family and friends as we would want.
The funeral provides an opportunity to family and friends to express sympathy. A funeral provides a way for mourners to make a memorial gift to a special cause on behalf of the deceased. If the deceased died of cancer monetary gifts might be directed to the American Cancer Society for further research on behalf of the deceased.
Even if the deceased was not a follower of any religion with certain funeral rites a general funeral shows respect for each person’s humanity. In my experience , funeral directors will provide comfort to the mourners and care for the bodies of the deceased that should be decently and honestly acknowledged at their death.
Why I Believe It’s Important To Always Have a Funeral, Scott Swanson
When a loved one passes it can be a hard time for everyone. Feeling lost and unsure about what to do, we contact a funeral home for assistance in the passing of our loved ones. As a matter a fact I can remember when my great grandma had passed and we didn’t know what to do.
After my grandma had passed there was that period where we needed help giving her the respect and love she deserved. A funeral is a way to show respect for the life of a loved one and to know they are not in pain anymore and that they are watching over you. It is very hard grieving over the death of a loved one but by having a funeral I was able to share my remembrances and the countless number of memories that I had. Also listening to others remembrances of my grandma and just thinking how good a person she was and the differences she made in others lives as well.
Funerals can differ from family to family and culture to culture, but in all they are a way to show your respects for a loved one. I remember during my grandmother’s visitation we had the Packer game playing, just because that’s what my grandma would have wanted.
I still miss my grandma today, but thinking back on it by having a funeral I was able to heal my grieving a lot faster by sharing memories that I had and listening to others remembrances also. I think that funeral homes do an immaculate job of respecting your loved ones and their wishes and also helping you heal on the loss of a loved one.
Why I Believe It’s Important To Always Have a Funeral, Lisa Duranso
Everybody dies. It’s a fact of life, and the only thing in our mayhem-riddled world that’s for certain. Well, besides taxes. But I digress.
I believe it’s important to have a funeral to celebrate the life led by the deceased. Telling stories, sharing memories with one another…many funerals are usually a somber affair, but they present an opportunity for family members to bond with each other.
Funerals are a worldwide occurrence, but each culture has a different way of mourning. The traditional custom here in America is to have a wake before the burial service so relatives can see the deceased one last time. Or the dead person will be cremated, like my mother wants to be. She also wants her ashes to be put into an hourglass so even after she’s gone she can still tell me I’m wasting time. Love you too, Mom.
Did you know that in New Orleans, they have a jazz festival with energetic dancing? (Normal dancing, not the hangman’s jig.) Or, that the Vikings didn’t really set their ships on fire, because that was expensive and not to mention a waste of a good ship. Instead, they dug ship-shaped graves, and lined them with rocks. And in Tibet, the body is dismembered and left for birds of prey, representing the Buddhist act Jhator. The worthless body helps life to flourish. In Hawaii, they have cave burials, where the body is bent into a fetal position, and left in a cave, covered with a cloth made from the mulberry bush. The bones are considered sacred, and believed to have divining power.
Death is something every living being has in common. We may have different rites and practices, but the underlying purpose is the same no matter where you go. Funerals, no matter how they are performed, are a way to honor and respect the dead. That is why I believe it is always important to have a funeral.
Helke Funeral Home Attends Local Career Fair
Helke Funeral Home in Wausau recently sponsored a booth at the 8th Grade Career Fair. Adam Holzschuh and Jeff Krcil, Licensed Funeral Directors at Helke Funeral Home, spoke with many curious youngsters as 1,289 students from 13 school districts attended this event held at North Central Technical College.
Helke Funeral Home was one of thirty-eight vendors and the only funeral home represented. There were a few students interested in school requirements as well as some teachers and chaperones.
The Compassionate Friends offers Age Progression Services
The Compassionate Friends organization is working with Phojoe Photo, an age progression specialist, to offer Age Progression Photo Services. Follow the link below to see examples and find out more regarding age progression photography.
ARTICLE (Located on The Compassionate Friends Website – go to: Find support, Online Community, Online Support)
When a child dies, the child remains forever in our memories but never ages. Many parents have expressed an interest in knowing what their child would have looked like had he or she lived longer, the Compassionate Friends, by special arrangement, has teamed up with Phojoe Photo, one of the top Age Progression specialists in the country, to offer our members a discounted opportunity to see what their child may have looked like at any age you specify.
All orders are discounted 15% if you enter through TCF’s portal and follow the instructions found on the Project Photo page reachable by clicking on Phojoe Photo Age Progrssion services. You can use the dropdown menu to order a number of services offered by Phojoe Photo. For any services on their website, but not listed in the dropdown, you can do a Photo Upload on the Portal Page, note the services requested under “comments,” as well as using the code “AP-FRIENDS” to receive your 15% Compassionate Friends discount. Phojoe Photo offers a 100% satisfaction guarantee.
Also, check out their other services which include: photo manipulation (adding a child’s picture to a family portrait); creating what a child might have looked like by using photos of the parents; photo restorations of damaged pictures; photo retouching; and photo collage.
If you need help, email or call Betty Dotseth with the WauMara Wisconsin Chapter of The Compassionate Friends.
Helke's Flag Flying Program
Helke Funeral Home Flag Flying Program is available to any family of a deceased veteran who would like their loved one’s flag flown. Your flag will be flown on our newly installed lit flagpole for 30 days.
Before a flag is flown, families will need to provide a copy of the deceased veteran's honorable discharge papers, along with the flag. Please note the flag must be in good repair, flags will not be flown if tattered, torn or dirty.
Flags will be flown in order received and returned clean and folded.
Please call to schedule.
Journeys of Hope & Grief Group - 2nd and 4th Tuesday of the Month
How to Talk to the Children and Teens in Your Life About the Newtown, CT, Tragedy
by Alan D. Wolfelt, Ph.D.
Once again we are faced with the traumatic, violent deaths of a group of innocent people, this time precious children in Newtown, Connecticut. I have been asked to provide some guidelines on how to communicate with children and teens about this tragedy. If you know of others who might benefit from this information, I invite you to forward this article to them.
First, it’s important to remember that children can cope with what they know, but they can’t cope with a reality they are over-protected from. As a father and as a counselor, I understand the instinct to want to protect children from such tragic news. But the reality is that many if not most of the children and teens in our lives (with the exception of the very youngest) have already heard about the recent school shooting from their peers, social media, or television. They have been exposed to the fact that 20 first-graders were shot by a stranger who barged into an elementary school. Many of them have also seen photos of the killer and of the children and teachers who were killed. Some may have read the horrific details of the massacre.
The point is, we cannot protect children from the tragedy, but we can let them teach us how they feel about it. As the caring adults in their lives, we have the responsibility to be available to them when they are struggling to understand what happened or if they have fears that the same thing could happen in their schools. We also have the responsibility to be honest with them within the boundaries of what is developmentally appropriate for a given child.
Listen (and observe), then respond
Watch the children in your life a little more closely this week and in the weeks to come. Notice if they are listening to news of the shooting, reading news online or in print, sharing stories that other kids have told them at school, or asking questions about the shooting. If it’s on their mind, or if you think it might be, then it’s your turn to ask a couple open-ended questions. “What have you heard about the school shooting that happened last week?” “Are the kids or teachers at your school talking about the kids who died in Connecticut?” You can also share your feelings: “I’ve been feeling sad about the children who were killed last week.”
Also watch for a change in behavior. Children who are more irritable or aggressive than usual or who are complaining of physical ailments uncharacteristically may essentially be telling you that they have absorbed some of the nation’s horror and anxiety about what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary. When ignored, children and teens feel all alone in their grief. Respond to them with sensitivity and warmth. Use a caring tone of voice; maintain eye contact when talking with and learning from them. This commitment to actively listening tells children that their feelings will be respected.
Remember that often kids don’t want to have a long conversation about the tragedy. They don’t want to be “talked at.” But if they’re given the opportunity, many will tell you what’s on their mind, allowing you a glimpse into their reality. Respond based on what they tell you or show you through their behaviors. Use their words and level of understanding. Don’t over-explain. Keep it simple and honest and loving. Let them know you’re someone they can talk to about the tough things.
Also, some kids, especially younger ones, may truly not be concerned about the shooting because it seems like just another far-away story that doesn’t affect them. That’s why it’s important to listen and observe, then respond. Allow for a discussion but don’t insist on one if the child isn’t telling or showing you she’s sad, anxious or perplexed. Let the child lead.
If a child is expressing, verbally or behaviorally, that she is afraid, reassure her that you and the other grown-ups in her life are doing everything you can to make sure that she is safe. Because it’s true, it’s OK to say, “This kind of thing almost never happens. It’s a one-in-a-million situation. You’re protected.”
Teens are ready to handle the more nuanced truth, which is that safety can’t be 100 percent guaranteed in anything we do in life. Model living each day with boldness, resilience, meaning, and purpose for the teens in your life.
Many kids will find it helpful to review school safety and security procedures, and indeed, this is happening at schools across the country as I write this. Physically show them the security measures in place and step through the drills.
In the home, if a child seems to be regressing to the behaviors of younger kids—such as wanting to sleep with mom and dad, bedwetting, thumb-sucking, etc., these are signs that this child simply needs some extra attention right now. Don’t punish him for the regressive behaviors. Indulge them for now. And spend extra time with him in the coming days and weeks. Be available when he gets up, when he comes home from school, after dinner, and on weekends as much as you can.
Be the grown-up
We as a nation have been traumatized by the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary. The multiple, violent deaths of precious young children and the adults who cared for them can result in intense feelings of shock, fear, anxiety and helplessness. Some of us confront these feelings by obsessively watching TV coverage of the event or talking about it with anyone and everyone.
While it’s normal and natural for us to try to integrate the reality of what happened in these ways, this kind of exposure may be too much for children. So limit your media viewing and conversation about the tragedy in front of your children. Younger kids, especially, don’t need to know and aren’t developmentally mature enough yet to handle all the details.
Be calm, reassuring, and positive. Be the caregiver. If you need to talk about your own thoughts and feelings about what happened, find another adult to talk to out of earshot of the kids. Never lie to children or hide the truth from them, but do limit their exposure.
Older kids, especially teens, may, like many adults, work through their thoughts and feelings by engaging with the national media and conversation about the shooting. Try watching the news together with these teens and talking about what you see. Be careful not to reverse roles. Don’t display your own grief so much that the child is forced to take care of you instead of the other way around. Seek outside support for yourself if you need it.
Search for meaning … together
As we all struggle to understand what can never be understood, we naturally turn to rituals and faith. If you attend a place of worship and there is a message about the shooting during the service, this may be helpful for your older child to hear. Model prayer, meditation, singing, spending time in nature or whichever activities are helpful to you in connecting to your spirituality. Attending a service or candle-lighting in memory of the children who died may be helpful for your family.
Participating in activities that connect us as humans can also be meaningful at this time. Children of all ages can participate in activities like making cards to send to the surviving children at Sandy Hook Elementary or supporting children in need in your own community through volunteer efforts like food or toy drives. If a child wants to talk about where the children who died “went,” be honest with her about your beliefs and ask her about hers. Encourage this conversation without feeling you need to know all the answers.
Thank you for being an adult who is committed to helping children learn to navigate our challenging times and emerge as resilient, communicative, and compassionate adults themselves. The world needs more communicators and compassion-givers. Perhaps if we work on these learned skills together, one day we will have no more need of articles like this one.
About the Author
Dr. Alan Wolfelt is a respected author and educator on the topic of healing in grief. He serves as Director of the Center for Loss and Life Transition and is on the faculty at the University of Colorado Medical School's Department of Family Medicine. A father of three, Dr. Wolfelt has written many bestselling books for and about grieving children and teens, including Healing Your Grieving Heart for Kids, Healing A Child’s Grieving Heart: 100 Practical Ideas for Families, Friends, and Caregivers, and Healing Your Grieving Heart for Teens. Visit www.centerforloss.com to learn more about helping children in grief and to order Dr. Wolfelt’s books.
Regarding the WFDA Funeral Trust
Casket and Urns
Green funerals include a casket or urn that is completely 100% biodegradable. No plastic or metal is used during their production. They are free of stains, varnishes, oils or animal products. Materials used to construct caskets or urns may include wood, sea grass, reeds, salt, clay, bamboo, earth or paper.
Preparation of the body
The body must be prepared in an environmentally friendly fashion as well. This typically means that there is no embalming with refrigeration being used instead. If embalming is requested by the family, a less-toxic embalming fluid may be used.
The deceased is commonly dressed in natural fiber clothing containing renewable sources, such as cotton, wool or linen without metal or plastic buttons and zippers.
Natural grave marking
Native organic flowers or plants and grave markers that are unpolished stones are appropriate selections.
A conservation cemetery provides a sustainable and fulfilling solution for people seeking to leave a legacy of care and respect for the environment. The burial process supports and restores nature instead of destroying it. Currently there are no conservation cemeteries in the Midwest, but efforts are being made to establish a conservation cemetery in Wisconsin.
A Wausau area cemetery has begun contacting lot owners to “update our files”. This commissioned sales force attempts to gain personal information to help them contact your extended family members. Their focus is to sell funeral service merchandise such as caskets, burial vaults, and cremation urns. We would like to offer some sound consumer advice on funeral preplanning and the purchase of funeral merchandise and service from businesses other than funeral homes.
*CONTACT YOUR FAMILY FUNERAL DIRECTOR FIRST
Our licensed Funeral Directors and staff are the same familiar faces that have served families for generations. We have years of experience and education, to help your family design a meaningful ceremony to remember your loved one.
*COMPARE QUALITY, CHOICES, AND PRICE
We purchase our personalized products through carefully chosen reputable providers. They are fully insured guaranteeing only the highest quality standards. We are committed to customer satisfaction and offer prices to fit every budget. Gimmicks of “two caskets for the price of one" may not be the best value for the price.
*COMPARE FUNERAL TRUSTS VS. CEMETERY TRUSTS
We can’t predict your financial future. When families choose to prefund their funeral with us, rest assured that your funds are safe, fully transferable, and arranged correctly should you need nursing home Medical Assistance. Currently, cemetery trusts to “pay for your funeral” may not set up properly for Medical Assistance recipients.
All of our caskets, burial vaults, and cremation urns are immediately available so you can schedule funeral ceremonies at the time and day you want. Merchandise purchased outside the funeral home can easily result in shipping delays due to product damage, weather conditions, product availability, weekends, and holidays.
*NO SALES PRESSURE
Unlike a commissioned sales force, we are Wisconsin licensed funeral professionals. You can count on us for honest, reliable information and education.
*PLACE YOUR TRUST IN YEARS OF SERVICE
There is a reason why funeral service is considered to be one of the most trusted professions today. We are a private family owned business that has been serving our community with pride since 1874. Our Wisconsin licensed Funeral Directors are here to serve you 24 hours a day, every day of the year. Turn to us for honest service. You will be glad you did.