Cremation is a popular and ever-growing choice for the final handling (disposition) of a deceased loved one. Over the next 18 years, 4 out of 5 Americans are projected to choose cremation over casket burial, according to both the Cremation Association of North America (CANA) and the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA).

CANA estimates that 20 to 40 percent of cremated remains are interred in a cemetery — placed in the ground or a columbarium, a storage area for urns — while 60 to 80 percent are buried in another location, scattered, or kept at home, on the mantel or stashed in a closet. In addition to ground interment or columbarium, progressive cemeteries have developed scattering gardens, multi-interment vaults, and ossuaries to assist families with the immediate disposition of ashes. Discussions with cemetery operators has revealed that children and grandchildren are bringing urns to a cemetery after family members tire of the urn on the mantel. Expect to see this delayed placement increase the percentage of cemetery interment.

The PCCFA is proud to serve as an Association that welcomes and assists with the many questions our members may have regarding operating and maintaining a crematory. Our association and supplier members can provide crematories with the best practices along with sponsoring programs for Certified Crematory Operator Training. Although crematories are regulated by the rules and regulations of the local municipalities in which they reside, our members are glad to share their knowledge and experiences performing this service of final disposition for the deceased.

History of Cremation

Today’s scholars generally agree that cremation began in Europe and the Near East around 3000 B.C. during the Stone Age after discovering decorative urn shards. While prevalent in the Greek and Roman Empires, between 1000 B.C. and 395 A.D, cremation was seen as pagan and rarely chosen by early Christians due to their belief in the physical resurrection of the body. Traditional sepulcher entombment remained the preference of Jewish cultures as well. By 400 A.D., earth burial replaced cremation except in rare times of plague and war. This effectively halted the development and use of cremation for centuries until it was revived in 1873 by an Italian professor at the Vienna Exposition. Professor Brunetti unveiled his new furnace invented specifically for cremating human remains and jump-started the cremation movement. Acknowledging cremation as an efficient and convenient measure of disposition allowed grieving families the option to view their loved ones in the urn of their choosing for eternity, instead of lowering them into a separated ground location. The first modern crematory in the United States was built in Washington, Pennsylvania in 1876 by Dr. Julius LeMoyne developed to be used following his own demise. The second crematory was owned and operated by a cremation society and was built in Lancaster, PA in 1884. Cremation in the early 1900’s increased slowly and was more prevalent with certain demographics of the population primarily based upon religious doctrines. Since the 21st century, cremation has grown exponentially and in 2020 accounted for 56% of the final dispositions in the United States.

Scattering

Scattering makes up a significant percentage of disposition of cremated remains in Pennsylvania. Permission from a landowner to scatter cremated remains on private land is strongly suggested. Scattering remains on private property without permission may bring about unintended consequences. Walt Disney World is a favored site for scattering a loved one’s remains, but if caught, security will put out a HEPA request and your loved one will get sucked up by a vacuum cleaner.

Most controlled lands, such as a public city parks, have rules and regulations, and require permits. For non-specific public lands (e.g., rural woodlands), scatter at your own risk. It is highly advisable to use roads or areas less traveled for the scattering ceremony. Cremated remains should not be scattered within 100 yards of public roads, walks, or public trails. The container which carries the remains must be disposed of separately. Please familiarize yourself with the local and state laws of the area you are interested in scattering in. Federal law may take precedence over state law in some scenarios.

You need to confirm that a cemetery has a scattering garden. Cemeteries that do not allow scattering within their cemetery is due environmental effects as cremated remains are not simply ashes, but fine bone fragments that do not biodegrade easily.

Cremation Products

When most consumers think of cremation the first item that comes to mind is an urn. Urns come in a variety of materials, shapes, and sizes. Individual urns generally hold 150-300 cubic inches but can be designed to hold companions together in 325-430 cubic inches. There are also smaller keepsake urns that can contain a small amount of cremated remains and be provided to multiple family members if they so desire. In addition to these smaller urns there is a wide array of jewelry that can hold a very small amount of cremated remains as a treasured keepsake of your loved one.

Cremation Memorialization

Cremated remains can be placed in a variety of places. For a variety of reasons, the PCCFA recommends placement of the urn in a safe, secure, and permanent location such as a cemetery. By placing the remains in a designated secure location, it will provide your families the peace of mind in knowing their loved one has a permanent final resting place. The urn can be better protected by utilizing an outer burial container which can be made of several different materials. A memorial can be placed at the cemetery location memorializing the life of a loved one in a permanent monument for present and future generations to visit, remember and reflect. Cemetery options for holding a receptacle of cremated remains can include a columbarium, a niche unit, cremation garden, ground burial or private estate. Information regarding memorial and burial container products for cremation can be provided by PCCFA Supplier Members.

Supplier Directory

PCCFA Supplier Members can provide not only best practices, but materials, repairs, consumer products, recycling, legal assistance, and fully operating cremation units. Find a PCCFA Supplier now!

National Associations

In addition to the Pennsylvania Cemetery, Crematory and Funeral Association (PCCFA) we recommend our members also participate nationally by becoming a member in one or more of the following organizations that can provide you with additional information regarding all of your cremation questions or needs. Please contact the following national associations and become a member today.

International Cemetery, Crematory and Funeral Association

Cremation Association of
North America

In 1999 PCCFA President Bill Moulton reached out to me and invited me to attend a PCCFA meeting. I learned so much and met so many experienced industry professionals at that meeting that I immediately became a member. PCCFA membership accelerated my industry knowledge through networking and educational opportunities and continues to add value to me every year. All cemeteries in Pennsylvania could benefit from joining.

Gary Buss, President, Arlington Cemetery and Funeral Home, Drexel Hill

As the operator of multiple cemeteries, funeral homes and crematories in the state, I am proud to be associated with the PCCFA. Despite being owned by SCI, the largest provider in the death care industry, PCCFA provides opportunities, networking and resources that cannot be found anywhere else. Since joining PCCFA, I have built a network of experts that help me to provide the best services to our respective communities. The membership is very willing to share methods and practices which help me to provide a safe, ethical and profitable business.

In addition, the PCCFA helps to raise a more collective voice when discussing legislative issues that arise. It has given me a forum where we can effectively discuss and guide legislative issues which have lasting impacts on the communities we serve and our ability to properly operate our business. I am very proud that the faces we see at our board meetings, conferences and committee meetings represents a very diverse range of people, just like the communities we serve.

The opportunities and benefits of being affiliated with the PCCFA have paid me back exponentially. I encourage anyone who is interested in joining to reach out and get involved.

Eric Wolverton, President, SCI, Pennsylvania Funeral Services, Inc.

When we were close to finalizing the acquisition of Life Remembered (formerly CMS East, LLC), Tim Kernan, a PCCFA board member for many years , advised me that it was important to be a member of PCCFA. He also recommended being a board member because it allows you to be in tune with regulatory and legal developments in the State. He also recommended supporting the PAC to ensure we had representation in the political arena.

Since joining the PCCFA, I have made friends and acquaintances that have given me advice and guidance. I feel like I’m part of a group of caring and supportive people who understand the day-to-day challenges of being in the funeral and cemetery industry.

Jude Abraham, Life Remembered

I joined PCCFA because my father said I should. He believed our state organization accomplished four important missions: 1 – Education for our members to improve their performance in serving their public. 2- Ensuring our members were reminded of our obligation to perform the highest ethical standards when serving our public. 3- The political reality that we needed to defend ourselves from segments of competing businesses that would attempt to pass legislation that harmed our industry while benefiting theirs. 4 – The benefit of networking and social comradery that comes from meeting with fellow PCCFA members.

My father’s guidance has proven to be wise council time and time again in my 44 years in the industry. We do not grow, develop, improve to become the best we can be if we remain sheltered in our private little business world not participating in or exposed to what was happening in the larger business world. It does not matter if you are a Cemeterian, Funeral Director, Cremationist, or florist, if you are a part of the Death Care Industry in Pennsylvania you really should become a member of PCCFA.

Harry C. Neel, Jefferson Memorial Cemetery, Funeral Home, Crematory and Arboretum, Pittsburgh
I joined PCCFA because it’s my responsibility and duty to do so. As the President & CEO of two of the Commonwealth’s most historic cemeteries, being a member of PCCFA demonstrates my commitment to the industry and to ensuring that others adhere to the high ethical standards that we do at Laurel Hill. I joined because I believe there is tremendous need to educate others about the innovative and progressive nature of our industry and to advocate for advancements that will benefit all.

As someone relatively new to this field, I joined PCCFA to engage with my colleagues, learn from them, and add my unique perspectives and professional experience. I joined to work collaboratively for the benefit of all in Pennsylvania’s death care industry.

Nancy Goldenberg, President & CEO, Laurel Hill, Philadelphia