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How to be a Pallbearer

Being asked to be a pallbearer at a funeral is considered to be a great honour for most people, as this involvement at the celebration of a person’s life, and their final goodbye, is representative of the relationship. It can, understandably, be a daunting task for some people, so – to put minds at rest – we have put together this quick guide covering what might be expected of you as a pallbearer.

What Pallbearers Wear

Unless otherwise requested, funeral guests should wear conservative, smart clothing in dark colours. The colour black is traditionally worn as it has long been associated with mourning. Because of the prominent role a pallbearer has, it’s important that their clothing is particularly smart. A dark suit or dress is considered widely appropriate.

Transport for Pallbearers

Depending on their relationship with the deceased, a pallbearer might be part of the funeral procession. This is not always the case, however, and sometimes a pallbearer will need to make their own way to the venue.

How to Carry a Coffin

On the day, the funeral director will be there to instruct you on the proper way to lift and carry a coffin. In the UK, conventionally the coffin is carried by four or six pallbearers on their shoulders; however it can also be carried using the handles if preferred. Tips on how to carry a coffin include:

  • Arrange pallbearers in pairs according to height – with shorter people at the front
  • Make sure the route is completely clear
  • Have people at either end of the coffin to help stabilise it before moving
  • Keep the coffin close to your body
  • Make sure you are wearing appropriate shoes (no heels and non-slip)
  • Keep a good posture – do not stoop or squat
  • Make sure you keep your head up so you properly see your way

Guidance on the Day

Pallbearers can rest assured that they will be fully supported by the funeral director on the day of the funeral. They will be on hand to make sure the coffin is properly lifted, and to make sure that you all know what is expected of you and when.

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