what is a pallbearer?
All definitions referred to carrying a casket - this is the traditional definition of the honor of pallbearer. With cremation becoming all the more popular - people are choosing to have pallbearers for urns as well.
what are the official duties of a pallbearer?
If you are having an open casket then the Funeral Staff will already have the casket set out before the ceremony begins. If it is a closed casket or cremation celebration then the casket or urn needs to be brought in - this is where the pallbearers come in. At the end of the ceremony the casket or urn is also carried out by the pallbearers. For the burial the casket or urn also needs to be brought to the grave side and this can be a job for the pallbearers also.
how to choose your pallbearers?
Being a pallbearer is considered an honor. When choosing a pallbearer think about who you'd like to have this honor but also who has the emotional strength to take on this duty. Physical strength must be considered also when referring to a pallbearer who will carry a casket.
Taking all these things into consideration, chose people who are mentally and physically able to take on the duty of pallbearer. If there is someone you'd like to honor with the title of pallbearer but you do not feel they are able, you can appoint them as honorary pallbearer. Often, when an urn is considered you only need one or two pallbearers and others can be referred to as honorary pallbearers.
who can be a pallbearer?
Pallbearers can be men or women, often family members or close friends. If the deceased was part of a group, order or fraternity, sometimes you will choose members of those organizations to be the pallbearers.
Typically there are six pallbearers, as there are six handles on the casket (3 on each side). Taking into consideration the weight of the casket you will balance the distribution of said weight by placing those who are unable to carry as much weight in the middle of each side.
Traditionally men were chosen as pallbearers while the leading women of the family had the honor of choosing who the pallbearers were. Nowadays it is more common to see men, women and even children be honored as pallbearers. Considering that the weight can be distributed properly, it is more likely to be able to have some pallbearers who cannot physical carry the casket. The other pallbearers simply bear the weight and the additional pallbearers are there to hold the casket but not carry the weight and therefore being able to include anyone as a pallbearer.
general rules for pallbearers.
Generally speaking there are a few rules that pallbearers should follow but most of these rules are for ease of transportation and providing a cohesive look, rather than being a a strict rules to follow.
Note that a funeral service can have more than one set of pallbearers. This ensures that anyone (male or female) can be included as a pallbearer. Being given that privilege or honor can be the way that someone needs to pay their last respects to the deceased. Do not deny a female (or child) the opportunity to pay their last respects by being a pallbearer. With a few adjustments in where the female (or child) carries the casket - anyone can be included in this special honor.
The funeral service is just a part of the commemoration of a life and being a pallbearer takes things to a more personal level. Take the time to speak with your family and close friends about whom you'd like to honor with the duty of being pallbearer at your funeral.