Pallbearer duties

Updated February 21, 2017

Pallbearer is the name given to the people who carry a casket into and out of a place of worship during a funeral. Sometimes the staff of the funeral home perform this role, but other times family or friends of the deceased serve as pallbearers.

Appropriate Dress

Traditionally, pallbearers have a duty to dress appropriately for their role in the funerary proceedings. According to some traditions, this may involve wearing all black, while in others it requires wearing a suit and tie or similar apparel.

Respectful Demeanor

As they walk with the casket, pallbearers typically keep a neutral, dignified expression to show respect for the dead.


It is rare for pallbearers to actually carry the casket on their shoulders, as most simply lift it to chest level using metal handles on the top of the casket. Upon reaching the front of the place of worship or the cemetery chapel, the pallbearers gently place the casket down.


Because they are needed to be present at the start of the funeral, pallbearers typically are required to ride together in one car or drive near the front of the funeral processional.


Though traditionally only men served as pallbearers, it is appropriate for women to fill the role as well. Normally, six pallbearers are utilised.

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About the Author

Faith Davies has been writing professionally since 1996, contributing to various websites. She holds an LAH insurance license in the state of Pennsylvania and has experience as a bank branch manager and lending officer. Davies graduated cum laude from the University of Pittsburgh with a Bachelor of Arts in art history.