Being a pallbearer at a loved one’s service is a significant role and a great honour. It can be an opportunity to show your love and respect for the person who has died and it may mean a lot to the bereaved to see their loved one’s closest family members and friends carrying their coffin or casket to their final resting place.

What to expect if you’re a pallbearer

If you have been asked to be a pallbearer, it’s important to understand the responsibilities that come with the role. Here are some things to consider or expect if you are a pallbearer:

  • The role of a pallbearer requires a certain level of physical fitness and emotional strength.
  • There can be around 6 to 8 pallbearers, depending on the size of the coffin or casket.
  • On the day of the funeral service, it’s a good idea to arrive early to meet with other members of the funeral procession so you can be given important instructions, such as when to lift and when to lower the coffin or casket.
  • When it is time to carry the coffin or casket, the pallbearers gather around it and lift it with care, taking care not to jostle or bump it. They then walk in a slow, solemn procession.
  • Pallbearers are responsible for carrying the coffin or casket in a slow, solemn procession from the vehicle that transported the person who has died to where their final service is being held.
  • You may either be carrying the casket or coffin at waist height, or on your shoulders if the family has requested this and it is safe to do so. If any of the pallbearers do not feel that they can shoulder the coffin, it will either be carried at waist height or with the assistance of a small trolley, known as a wheel bier.
  • Pallbearers will also carry the casket or coffin back to the vehicle, and from there to the graveside or crematorium, or where the final resting place will be.

Do you want to be a pallbearer?

If you have been asked to be a pallbearer, you might feel nervous about the responsibility of carrying a loved one to their final resting place. This is a very normal feeling. If you don’t feel comfortable completing this role, then you are welcome to politely decline the offer and let whoever is arranging the funeral know your reasons why – they will most likely understand and respect your decision.

Who can be a pallbearer?

You can choose anyone you like to be a pallbearer. Pallbearers can be men, women, friends, family, community members, neighbours, colleagues or funeral home professionals.

There are other ways to be involved in the service, such as being a speaker at the funeral.

Being asked to be a pallbearer is an honour, and an opportunity to show your respect for the person who has died.