The Role of Pallbearers at a Funeral
Pallbearers at a funeral are people with specific roles to make the occasion go smoothly.
Before the pallbearers do this, they will escort the coffin into the service.
Traditionally the role is left to men. This is perhaps due to the necessity of muscle to bear a weighty body and casket. However, there is no written rule that this must be the case. The organiser can call upon women to be pallbearers.
The organiser will appoint pallbearers not just because they are men strong enough to lift the casket. Usually, the men will be close relatives or friends of the deceased.
They will be the brothers, uncle, godfather of the dearly departed or at least close neighbours or long-time workmates.
Ordinarily, the organisers do not give the role to immediate family members unless requested.
Being a pallbearer is considered an honour
You can volunteer to be a pallbearer, or the deceased will have chosen you in advance. In most cases, pallbearers are selected by those organising the funeral and informed a few days before the service.
Being a pallbearer is a voluntary role, and so when the organiser approaches you to do it, you should oblige without objection.
Depending on the nature of their relationship with the deceased, some will count it a great honour to be involved in the proceedings.
Unless one has a genuine reason not to, good ethics demands that you respect the wishes of the dead, especially if they made the request themselves before they died.
Show up on the day appropriately dressed (a dark suit will do) and execute the role with respect.
After fulfilling their role and assisting to give the deceased his final farewell, it is important to express your gratitude to all parties.
- You might want to go beyond a hug or a warm handshake in saying thank you to your pallbearers. There are other options as well; you might decide to give them a small gift.
- If you have a bit of cash to play around with you can get each pallbearer a customised item of jewellery or fashion accessory.
- You can get each a pair of handcuffs engraved with their initials for instance. If you can’t quite afford that, you could settle for a tasteful tie.
- Mementos from the ceremony, however, might mean more to them and cost much less. You could have a group photo of the pallbearers taken and a print framed for each of them.
- Or you could print the photo onto a card which also bears a special thank you note. Another way to make the gift mean more to its recipient is to refer to the bond they shared with the deceased.
If they are music lovers, you could give them records. It all depends on your creativity and your budget.
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