When planning a funeral, one of the key roles to consider is that of the pallbearer, the individual responsible for carrying the casket.

This physical task carries deep symbolic meaning, reflecting the close bonds and respect between the pallbearers and the deceased.

Understanding who can serve as a pallbearer, from family members to professional pallbearers and the factors influencing this choice is valuable for families arranging a service.

This guide delves into the duties of pallbearers, the significance of their role and how to choose the right individuals for this honour.

It aims to provide clarity and guidance on who carries the casket or is a pallbearer during a funeral, highlighting the importance of this tradition and its impact on the ceremony.

What Does A Pallbearer Do?

Pallbearers play an important role in funeral services, with their primary duty involving the actual heavy lifting of the casket. This could be from the hearse to its final resting place, either at a burial site or a crematorium.

This task can involve carrying the casket to and from the funeral home, through the service and finally to the burial or cremation site.

Chosen pallbearers signify the deep bonds and respect held for the loved one, in times when the coffin is adorned with a heavy cloth or pall, the act of carrying showcases a final tribute of respect and love.


Who Can Be A Pallbearer?

The role of a pallbearer, traditionally seen as a position of honour and responsibility, is open to a more inclusive selection of individuals than many might assume.

This role is not restricted to male family members or close friends. Still, it can be extended to anyone deemed fit by the family or the funeral directors, reflecting the evolving practices within funeral services.

Family Members And Close Friends

Traditionally, choosing pallbearers has been the prerogative of immediate family members. This selection process is deeply personal, often comprising close friends and family members who bond significantly with the deceased.

In Singapore, the number of pallbearers needed for a funeral typically ranges from four to eight, depending on the coffin or casket design. Most caskets have six handles, three on each side, which suggests that at least six pallbearers are needed.

Some caskets also include additional handles at the front and back, allowing for up to eight pallbearers.

Professional Pallbearers

Most of the time, the services of professional pallbearers are used in Singapore. These are usually the staff of the funeral home. Professional pallbearers are particularly beneficial when physical strength or an emotional distance is desired.

These professionals ensure the funeral process runs smoothly, providing a dignified and respectful service.

The benefits of hiring professional pallbearers include relieving the emotional burden on the family and friends and allowing them to grieve without the added stress of performing ceremonial duties.


What Are Honorary Pallbearers?

Honorary pallbearers serve in a ceremonial position distinct from that of active pallbearers. Unlike active pallbearers, who physically carry the coffin to its final resting place, honorary pallbearers are chosen to pay respect to the deceased without the responsibility of the actual heavy lifting.

This role allows friends, colleagues or family members who may not be able to carry the casket due to age, health or distance to still participate in the funeral service in a meaningful way.

Honorary pallbearers are often acknowledged for their significant relationship with the deceased or for having achieved significant merit in the deceased’s eyes.

During the service, they might walk ahead of, beside or behind the coffin, lead the procession to the burial site or simply stand in a place of honour during the ceremony.

The funeral director typically coordinates their participation, ensuring they understand their roles and where they should be positioned throughout the service.


5 Factors To Consider When Choosing A Pallbearer

If you decide on having family members or friends to serve as pallbearers, it is important to carefully consider the following factors. The role of a pallbearer, carrying or escorting the casket, is both an honour and a responsibility.

Here are five key factors families should consider to ensure their chosen pallbearers can respectfully and dignity fulfil their duties.

  1. Physical Capability: Carrying the casket demands certain physical strength and stamina.It’s important to consider the health and physical abilities of potential pallbearers, ensuring they can comfortably and safely perform this task. This consideration helps avoid any physical strain or accidents during the funeral service.
  2. Emotional Connection to the Deceased: Selecting individuals who share a meaningful relationship with the deceased adds a layer of personal honour and significance to the funeral.

    The emotional bond between the pallbearer and the deceased often mirrors the impact the latter had on their lives, adding depth and sincerity to the ceremony.

  3. Willingness to Serve: The role of a pallbearer carries significant emotional weight, making it important to choose individuals who are comfortable with and willing to undertake this responsibility.

    Their participation in the funeral procession and service is a testament to their respect and love for the deceased.

  4. Reliability and Availability: Pallbearers play a role in the smooth execution of the funeral service. It’s important to ensure that those chosen are available on the day of the funeral and can adhere to the schedule set by the funeral director, arriving on time for any necessary preparations.
  5. Balance of Tradition and Personal Wishes: While some families may adhere to traditions or cultural practices when selecting pallbearers, the personal wishes of the deceased and their family should also be considered.

    Striking a balance between these can ensure the funeral service honours the memory of the deceased in a manner that is meaningful and respectful to all involved.


Conclusion On Who Carries The Casket/Pallbearer At A Funeral

Choosing the right pallbearers is a key part of planning a funeral, helping to honour and remember the person who has passed away. This choice offers families a way to show respect and find some comfort during a hard time.

If you’re looking for trusted funeral services in Singapore, consider Casket Fairprice. Our experienced team of professional funeral advisors is dedicated to providing comprehensive support, from fully equipped funeral parlours to a broad range of casket services.

We are committed to delivering personalised, caring service that brings solace to the bereaved and celebrates the life of the departed with dignity.

We offer a non-obligatory quotation and free consultations for those seeking guidance or considering pre-planning needs. Contact us today, and let our dedicated team assist you in honouring your loved one’s memory with the respect and care they deserve.


Frequently Asked Questions On Who Carries The Casket/Pallbearer At A Funeral

When Does The Coffin Need To Be Carried?

During the funeral service, the coffin is carried from the wake venue to the hearse by the pallbearers. Carrying the coffin is a mark of respect and honour for the deceased.

What Is The Protocol For Pallbearers At Military Funerals?

At military funerals, the protocol for pallbearers is marked by formal precision and respect in line with military traditions. Pallbearers are often members of the armed forces who wear their dress uniforms and work in unison to carry the coffin, typically draped with the national flag.

They must follow specific ceremonial procedures, including lifting, carrying and lowering the coffin. They play a critical role in folding and presenting the flag to the next of kin.

Why Are Coffins Carried Feet First?

Coffins are carried feet first for practical and traditional reasons. This positioning allows the pallbearers to navigate more easily, keeping the heavier end of the coffin, which is typically where the deceased’s head is located, in front of the leading pallbearers.

It also ensures that the deceased is moved in a dignified manner, respecting ancient customs and beliefs about the dead facing forward. This method also helps pallbearers avoid stumbling, as they can see the path ahead more clearly.