A pallbearer is a funeral escort, helping when the casket of a deceased person is
carried away from a religious service or viewing to their final resting place, or to
and from the hearse.
A pall is the heavy cloth that is draped over a coffin; by metonymy the term
pallbearer is used to signify someone who bears the coffin which the pall covers.
Some traditions distinguish between these two roles, with pallbearer being a
ceremonial position, just carrying a tip of the pall or a cord attached to it, while
casket bearers do the actual heavy lifting and carrying. There may otherwise be
only pallbearers in the literal sense while the casket is on an animal or on an animal
drawn or motorized vehicle.
Pallbearers are usually
associated in an intimate manner
(such as brother, uncle, son, father,
or husband). Pallbearers are not
always male, but male pallbearers
are the most common. Many times
they are chosen by the deceased
before their death, though this is
not always the case.
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|Pallbearers Loading the Casket into the Hearse
photo: Ken Naegele