Being a pallbearer is a privilege. One is chosen for this role because of their special place in the deceased person's life, and being a pallbearer is a way to respect the person during their funeral. A pallbearer helps carry the casket at a funeral any time it needs to be moved or repositioned. If it's your first time being chosen for this role as a teen, it's only natural to be confused or maybe even nervous. Here is what you need to know about being a pallbearer for a loved one's funeral.
The Basics of Being a Pallbearer
The history of pallbearers goes back to at least the early 1700's. The term comes from a combination of the pall, which is a heavy cloth that is placed over a casket, and the term "bearer," which refers to the person who carrying that casket. The immediate family typically chooses who they want as pallbearers and one person often reaches out.
If someone asks you to be a pallbearer, you should decide and reply as soon as possible. Since time is of the essence when planning the funeral, it's important to let them know right away, if possible. Since you're a teen, they may expect that you will be physically strong. If you have any physical limitations, it is important to let them know before agreeing to the position. You will have to lift the casket alongside other pallbearers multiple times, so you should feel comfortable physically doing so.
Once you agree to be a pallbearer, you can ask the immediate family for any details of the service that you need to know. They should let you know the time that you should arrive and where exactly you will need to bring the casket.
Responsibilities at the Funeral
Once you arrive at the funeral home, you will be directed on what you should do. Pallbearers typically carry the casket by its handles as one of 6 or 8 total pallbearers for the funeral. They carry the casket from the funeral home to the hearse, and they carry it again from the hearse to the gravesite. They may also be asked to otherwise transport it as well.
You will probably be asked to carry the casket at around waist height, although that can vary a bit depending on the height of all the pallbearers. There are no established standards regarding how you must carry the casket, but the funeral home may have certain suggestions. The family may have special requests about carrying it as well. Those should always be honored.
Finally, keep in mind that it's important to respond promptly when asked to be a pallbearer. If you take on this responsibility, try to be courteous, sympathetic, and prompt throughout the entire process. The family is likely counting on you during one of their darkest times, and simply showing up and being a pallbearer can be a great way to show your love and support for the mourners as well as for the deceased person whose life is being celebrated.