Join us for the Living & Dying series

All are welcome to join Living & Dying – Dilemmas Facing the Modern Age, a 3-part series introducing and exploring end of life considerations.

In this free educational series, we explore how to best prepare ourselves and our loved ones as we face the life and death decisions that will come for all of us. Bring your questions as we navigate these difficult topics together.

You are welcome to register for one or multiple sessions in the series.  For those not able to attend in person, experience the series virtually by watching a recording that will be shared following each session.

Register Today

Upcoming Sessions

Estate Planning and Legal IssuesPostponed Due to Speaker Availability

We will discuss basic information about wills, trusts and other planning devices by which property may be passed at death. We will also discuss “living wills,” your written expression of how you would like to be treated in certain medical conditions.

Planning Your FuneralSunday, Jun. 26 at 11:00 am

Cremation or casket burial? Why deny yourself the privilege of making your own testimony of faith at the time of your death? A clergy member will discuss how to plan for a Christian funeral and memorial service.

Past Sessions

Introduction to Cremation and Columbaria

Cremation has now become more popular than casket burial. Hear about the advantages of cremation and why more than 1.4 million Americans are cremated each year. This will also be an opportunity to learn about the current plans for our Memorial Courtyard (repository for ashes).

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Jennifer Heimdahl has been a licensed funeral director for 20 years and a part of the Cress Family since 2008. She was born and raised in Trempealeau and Blair, Wisconsin. She attended the University of Wisconsin, LaCrosse and transferred to Minneapolis, to complete her education at the University of Minnesota’s Mortuary Science Program, earning her Bachelor of Science degree. She is a member of the McFarland American Legion Auxiliary and enjoys yoga and many outdoor activities. “It’s a natural curiosity to wonder how someone decides to choose this career; for me, losing loved ones at a young age gave me perspective that funerals are tributes and a valuable part of the grieving process. That understanding inspired me to pursue a career offering that help and support to families through their times of tragedy and loss.”

Desiree Paananen has been in the death care profession for more than 10 years.  Her passion began with creating life-honoring granite memorials in the greater Milwaukee area.  Desiree then relocated to Kansas City where she worked in cemeteries and funeral homes helping families with an array of death care needs. She then moved back to Wisconsin to be closer to and take care of her family.  Since moving back to Wisconsin, Desiree joined the Cress Funeral and Cremation Services.  During her few years at Cress, Desiree has experienced a multitude of service offerings.  Desiree enjoys building relationships in the community and appreciates all the wonderful people that unify Madison and its surrounding communities. Desiree exclaimed, “It is truly an honor to serve and be a part of such a wonderful community.”

Registration and Cost

There is no fee for this series. Please register today to reserve your seat for this series. If you are unable to attend, but would like to receive the recording, please register as well.


For questions about this series, please contact Amy Ryan at, 608-836-1631, x124.

Register Today

For those attending in person, join us between 10:00-11:00 am for Hospitality Sunday, to enjoy refreshments and conversation before our session begins.


The series will take place in the dining room at Holy Wisdom Monastery. We are located at 4200 County Road (or on some maps County Highway) M, Middleton, WI 53562

Click here for directions from Google Maps