funeral homes in Adelphi, MD

The Purpose of Pallbearers at Funerals

Pallbearers are always a part of funerals at funeral homes in Adelphi, MD. The word pallbearer comes from the decorative heavy cloth used to drape the casket – it’s known as a pall – and the tradition of having pallbearers is almost as old as funerals themselves.  

Regardless of whether the funeral service is open or closed casket, the role of pallbearers is transport the casket. At the end of the funeral service, pallbearers will carry the casket to the hearse before anyone else leaves the service. Once the hearse arrives at the cemetery where the deceased will be buried, pallbearers then carry the casket from the hearse to the gravesite.   

There are usually six to eight pallbearers. They carry the casket using handles on the sides of the casket. It is not unusual in some cultures for pallbearers to carry the casket on their shoulders.  

Choosing pallbearers for the funeral of a deceased loved one is an important part of the service. When deciding who to use as pallbearers, if your deceased loved one did not designate them in advance, think about the people who were closest to your loved one. These might be family members, long-time friends, or close colleagues. You can also choose to appoint pallbearers from organization that the deceased may have belonged to, such as civic groups or the military. Traditionally, because the casket is heavy, pallbearers have been men, but it’s becoming more common for women to be chosen to be pallbearers as well.  

You can also designate people who were close to a deceased love one as honorary pallbearers. These are people who will walk in front or behind the casket as it is being transported. This is generally done for people who were very close to the deceased, but who are unable, for whatever reason, to actually carry the casket itself.  

Take some time to give thoughtful consideration to the people you choose to be pallbearers for your loved one. Consider those who might have been close, but may not be emotionally up to the task of carrying the casket or even being an honorary pallbearer because they are overcome with grief.  

Being a pallbearer is an honor and a way to demonstrate deep respect for the deceased. Being chosen as a pallbearer also means that you had a special place in the deceased’s life and it gives you an opportunity to participate in the funeral process that will take the deceased to their final resting place.  

Pallbearers need to arrive early at the funeral service. There will be a designated area up front where pallbearers will sit (it’s usually the row across the aisle from where the family is sitting).   

Dress conservatively (dark suit and tie for men or dark suit or dress for women). Wear comfortable shoes, since you may be carrying the casket over uneven ground. The funeral home staff will make sure you know how to carry the casket so it doesn’t get dropped during transportation (always a fear among pallbearers).  

Because pallbearers carry out one of the most important roles in funeral services, solemnity, decorum, and respect are key attributes that each of them must display. If you’ve been chosen as a pallbearer and you don’t think you can do it, either physically or emotionally, have a honest discussion with the family of the deceased and offer to help them in some other way. They chose you because you were close to the deceased, and even though you may not be able to fulfill this role in the funeral process, there are many other ways that you can serve the family.   

If you’d like to understand more about the role of pallbearers at funeral homes in Adelphi, MD, you can talk with our expert staff at Donald V. Borgwardt Funeral Home, P.A. You can drop by our funeral home at 4400 Powder Mill Rd., Beltsville, MD, 20705, or you can contact us today at (301) 937-1707