For more than 30 years, I’ve been involved in various segments of the funeral industry, from the early days in my role as a funeral director to my more recent 11-year tenure as the executive director of the world’s oldest and largest association of independently owned funeral homes. I have witnessed the confusion and discomfort that can exist for those responsible for arranging final tributes and services. Throughout my career, one basic concept has remained very clear: informed purchasers of funeral services, as with any product or service, are far more likely to make decisions most appropriate for their unique personal needs and circumstances.
Unfortunately, the subjects of death and funerals are so discomforting for many people that they don’t collect the information before the need arises. In addition, these decisions have become more confusing for many people due to contemporary factors, such as the distances that separate family members, the virtually unlimited options for personalization of funeral services, and the growing popularity of “green burial” alternatives, to name only a few. This guide is a source of objective and factual information. In it, I’ll share information and insight about the many questions, decisions, and options facing those responsible for arranging tributes and funeral services for those they love. It is neither my wish nor intent to influence personal decisions about any form of final tribute. It is my goal to equip people with information that reduces the potential for miscommunication and regret, and lessens stress during what many describe as the most difficult time in their lives.
- George W. Clarke