It is an honor to be asked to serve as a pallbearer. In the past, pallbearers were strong men who were not members of the immediate family. These days, pallbearers can be men or women, and not all of them necessarily help to carry the casket. If you’re asked to be a pallbearer, get the necessary details from the funeral home representative, as your specific responsibilities may vary from the following information.
The Role of the Pallbearer
In ancient times, the term “pallbearer” actually referred to the individuals who carried the hem of the pallium, or cloak, which was draped over the coffin. Today, a pallbearer is a person who helps carry the casket from the funeral service to the hearse, and then from the hearse to the gravesite. The average adult-size casket will need six to eight pallbearers. Some funeral services have honorary pallbearers, who escort the casket, but do not carry it. Honorary pallbearers are often people who were close to the decedent, but are physically unable to help carry the casket. These individuals may walk beside, in front of, or behind the casket.
The Responsibilities of Pallbearers
Pallbearers have an important role in the funeral and burial service. It’s essential to arrive at the designated location early. The funeral director or the officiant of the ceremony will provide instructions. Before the service begins, make sure you have the following information:
- Where to park
- Where to sit during the service
- When to stand up and approach the casket
- Where to grasp the casket
- How to appropriately transfer the casket into the hearse
- Where to sit or stand for the graveside service
Knowing where to park is significant because, as a pallbearer, your car will join the procession. The procession is the line of cars that follows the hearse to the gravesite. If it’s necessary to transport the casket through a town, you will not have to stop at stop signs. Continue to follow the procession straight through intersections, keeping at an even speed. Municipalities allow this for the sake of keeping the procession together, so that everyone arrives at the gravesite at the same time.
Burial plots are available in San Diego at Greenwood Memorial Park & Mortuary. We offer customizable funeral service and burial options, which include the use of a funeral vehicle or hearse. If you have any questions, please call (619) 701-6473.