The word “funeral” evokes a wide variety of emotions and varying reactions. From the celebration of life parades in New Orleans; a tear-filled sadness sitting quietly in a pew; and a religious service with the promise of everlasting life; all funeral services are a family’s striving to balance grief with honoring one life and beliefs. The response of sadness is natural as one realizes the permanent separation with that person is natural. Regardless, the source of a spouse or family’s comfort could be from a well-planned, personalized funeral that honored their loved one’s life and legacy.

A funeral director is there to help you understand the value of the funeral. Funeral directors will inform, educate, and help you understand all your options so that you may plan a funeral that is fitting to the unique life that was lived.

Whether you or your loved one are members of a formal religion, are spiritual but not religious, or have other beliefs, a funeral is a unique way of honoring a person’s life and can be a great source of comfort to those survivors who are grieving the loss. The funeral provides family members and friends an environment to offer comfort, support to one another and share their thoughts and feelings about the life of the deceased. It can be a formal, structured event based on religious ritual, a less formal gathering in a special place, or perhaps something else in between. A primary importance of the funeral lies in honoring the life of your loved one.

The Funeral Service*

  • Helps confirm the reality and finality of death.
  • Provides a climate for mourning and the expression of grief.
  • Allows the sorrows of one to become the sorrows of many.
  • Is one of the few times love is given and not expected in return.
  • Is a vehicle for the community to pay its respects.
  • Encourages the affirmation of religious faith.
  • Is a declaration that a life that has been lived as well as a sociological statement that a death has occurred.

*The Funeral from Ancient Egypt to Present Day America, National Funeral Directors Association, 1967

Value of a Funeral Director

Most people only make funeral arrangements a few times in their life. Simultaneous with one’s grief, you are being asked to make a major decision with financial ramifications. Professional funeral directors will make this process as easy as possible while achieving your desired results. Importantly, they are familiar with the laws of your state as they pertain to your loved one’s arrangements and will help take care of all necessary details, including taking your loved one into his or her care from the hospital, nursing home, or home. They will contact all interested parties on your behalf, obtain all required permits, file the death certificate, and guide you through the decision-making process as it relates to their services.

Funeral directors are skilled in creating memorable life tribute events. Funeral directors will have unique ideas and access to special resources to help your family be as creative as they need to be when planning a service that captures the essence of one’s life.

There are many services that your funeral director can provide for you, and the following is a partial list of how your funeral director can assist you:

  • Creating a personalized and meaningful funeral honoring your loved one’s life.
  • Explaining your full range of services and options.
  • Coordinating a newspaper or online obituary.
  • Preparing and filing the death certificate.
  • Coordinating with the clergy and/or your church.
  • Arranging for a funeral celebrant or clergy if you do not have one.
  • Coordinating cemetery arrangements.
  • Coordinating crematory arrangements.
  • Securing musicians.
  • Securing flowers.
  • Coordinating memorial contributions to your favorite charity.
  • Notifying the Social Security Administration of your loved one’s death.
  • Providing information on Veterans benefits and military honors.
  • Arranging or assisting with meals and receptions.

By The Federal Trade Commission’s Funeral Law, before making any decisions regarding funeral services or merchandise, your funeral director is required to provide you with a copy of their funeral home’s General Price List. This will help you make informed decisions about which funeral services. He or she will provide guidance and assist you in making decisions that are most appropriate for you and your family.

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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 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

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

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.