If you've been asked to serve as a pallbearer at a loved one's funeral, you should feel honored. It is a role of distinction, and one that should be handled with respect. However, if you've never done it before and you don't have a point of reference for what to expect, you might be a little bit confused. Here are some things you should know before the service.
Dressing to serve as a pallbearer should take some careful consideration. For men, a clean, formal suit is the best option. For women, a conservative dress or a skirt and nice blouse are best. Make sure that whatever shoes you opt for are comfortable and easy for you to walk in, as you'll be walking some.
You'll Need To Arrive At The Service Early
You're probably used to showing up for a funeral right before it starts. For those attending simply to remember the deceased and show support for the family, this is perfectly acceptable. However, for those who are taking an active role in the service, such as pallbearers, you'll need to be there much earlier. Plan to arrive at least a half an hour before the funeral is scheduled to start. You'll need that time to get the information about your role and the process from the funeral director.
Don't Leave The Casket Until Your Duties Are Finished
Many funerals allow for some time for the guests to visit and share stories and show support. Don't wander away from the casket to visit with others during this time. As a pallbearer, it is your responsibility to stay beside it at all times until your duties are completed. When your duties are finished, you can take time to talk with the attendees.
Walk Deliberately And Slowly
Keep your pace consistent but not rushed. Let the lead pallbearer set the actual pace and follow that as you walk. It's particularly important that you watch your step when you're walking in the cemetery, because the ground will likely be uneven and may even be slippery.
Expect To Stay After The Service
Many times, pallbearers are expected to stay following the service to help clean up after the guests leave. Plan on an extra half an hour or more to help the grieving family get things taken care of at the cemetery and the funeral home. Ask ahead of time if there's anything in particular that you can do to help.
Contact a funeral home, like Shepherd Funeral Home, for more help.