Pallbearers at a funeral have a very special role. It is an honor to be selected as a pallbearer. Pallbearers have the responsibility of carrying the casket when it is required. If the funeral will have an open casket, then the casket will already be set up at the church, chapel, or other funeral venue. With a closed casket, it is traditional to have the pallbearers bring the casket in and then carry it back out to a hearse after the service. If there is a cemetery burial after the service, the pallbearers will once again carry the casket to the gravesite.
There are typically six pallbearers since there are usually six handles on a casket. Sometimes there are eight handles, which would allow for two more pallbearers.
Pallbearers are usually close family members and friends. They can be men or women. Common choices include siblings, adult children, grown grandchildren, nieces, nephews, close friends, or colleagues. Pallbearers can also serve in other capacities at a funeral such as helping to seat guests or delivering a eulogy.
When choosing pallbearers, it is important to think about who would be physically and emotionally able to handle the job. You may also want to consult family members about who would be the best to choose. In most cases, pallbearers are required to carry the casket so you will want to pick people who will be able to bear the weight. If, however, you want to choose someone who cannot lift and carry, they can be included as an additional honorary pallbearer. They can still walk along side the casket or take on other helpful duties during the funeral.
As previously mentioned, being a pallbearer is an honor. Most people you ask to fulfill this role will gladly do so. If, however, someone declines the position, it should not be taken as an insult. Everyone deals with loss differently.
Having pallbearers at a funeral can help lighten some of the load on the closest of family members. It allows them to grieve and not worry so much about some of the details of the funeral. Of course, our funeral directors will also be on hand to make sure everything goes smoothly. We want to make sure that your loved one is laid to rest with care and dignity.