Pallbearers help carry the casket of the deceased at a funeral.
The pallbearers are responsible for carrying the casket to whatever location the service requires. Generally, they carry the casket from the hearse into the funeral home or church, and back again to the hearse. If a cemetery burial is part of the service, pallbearers carry the casket from the hearse to the grave.
The number of pallbearers typically varies based on the physical ability of the pallbearers and the weight of the casket. A typical casket weighs around 200 pounds, but some caskets, depending on material and the size of the deceased, can weigh significantly more. Generally, six to eight pallbearers are required.
Usually the family of the deceased nominates pallbearers, and there aren't strict rules governing these selections as long as they are able-bodied. Close family members are typically excluded.
Typically, pallbearers in the United States are volunteers or selected by the family. Usually, they are not offered compensation. However, if no volunteers are available, funeral homes may provide pallbearers for a fee.
The term "pallbearer" derives from the heavy cloth, known as a pall, which is placed over the casket in some religious funerary traditions.