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Can Women Be Pallbearers? Must Know Guide

Kate Tran
Last updated

The role of a pallbearer is a time-honored tradition that dates back centuries. Pallbearers are individuals who carry a casket during a funeral procession as a final tribute to the deceased. While men have long been associated with the tradition, there is a growing push for gender equality in pallbearer roles. This raises the question: Can women be pallbearers?

Who Should Be A Pallbearer?

who should be pallbearers

Pallbearers are traditionally male family members or close friends of the deceased. There are no strict rules regarding who can be pallbearers these days. The most important thing is that the chosen individuals are able to physically carry the casket and be willing to do so.

Sometimes the deceased has already chosen who they want to be their pallbearers, and other times the family decides based on their own preferences. You could even have the funeral home’s professional pallbearers do it. At the end of the day, it all comes down to what works best for the funeral plan and what the family and loved ones want.

Can Women Be Pallbearers?

Yes, women can be pallbearers. Women were not traditionally expected to fill this role, but this has changed in recent years as society progresses toward gender equality. When choosing pallbearers, the most important factors are their physical ability to carry the casket and their willingness to perform this solemn duty. As such, the gender of the pallbearer is not a determining factor.

The Legality of Women as Pallbearers

There are no specific laws or regulations that prevent women from serving in this capacity. It comes down to the individual preference of the family.

How Common Are Female Pallbearers?

As society shifts towards gender inclusivity, the use of female pallbearers has increased over time. However, due to physical constraints, the overwhelming majority of people who take on this role are men. In some traditional cultures or religions it is still uncommon for women to perform this role, while in more Western societies, it is more widely accepted. Regardless, the use of female pallbearers appears to be on the rise.

What To Consider When Deciding To Use Female Pallbearers?

Should a woman carry a coffin?

When deciding whether to ask a woman to be a pallbearer, keep the following factors in mind:

Physical strength: Pallbearers need to be physically strong enough to carry the weight of the casket, which can be up to 500 pounds or more. This is particularly important in funerals which require the casket to be hoisted on a pallbearer’s shoulders. While men are traditionally chosen for this role due to their perceived strength, there are certainly women who have the necessary physical ability.

Balance and coordination: Pallbearers also need to have good balance and coordination when navigating steps, uneven ground, or other obstacles as they move the casket around and into the hearse. Avoiding high heels or other impractical shoes can help with limiting any safety risks.

Overcoming physical limitations: A casket trolley (supplied by the funeral home) can be used to allow each pallbearer to push the casket rather than bear the load. Families can also choose to have more pallbearers which reduces the weight distribution.

Honorary pallbearers: Consider assigning the role of honorary pallbearer to someone who is unable to physically support a load. This enables them to take part by walking behind or in front of the casket. They can also be involved by carrying a framed photo or other memorial items.

Relationship to the deceased: If there are women who were particularly close to the deceased and who are physically capable of serving as pallbearers, their participation may be worth considering. They may value the ability to contribute in the funeral in some capacity and play an important role in the service.

Cultural or religious norms: Depending on the family’s culture or religion, there may be specific norms or traditions concerning the use of pallbearers. It is critical to respect these traditions while also taking into account the role’s physical and environmental requirements.

Emotional state of mind: This consideration applies to both men and women. In addition to the grief they may be experiencing, acting as a pallbearer can be distressing for some. If someone is in a fragile emotional state, becoming a pallbearer may not be a good idea.

What Should A Female Pallbearer Wear?

what to wear as a female pallbearer

When it comes to the dress code for female pallbearers, keep in mind that the occasion is solemn and respectful. As such, it’s best to err on the side of modesty and conservatism in terms of attire.

Dark-colored dresses, pantsuits, or skirts paired with a blouse and closed-toe flat shoes are a good choice. It’s also important to consider the specific customs and traditions of the family and community, as well as the location and climate of the funeral or memorial service. Ultimately, the goal is to show respect for the deceased and their loved ones by dressing appropriately.

Female Pallbearers – Custom and Culture

While it is acceptable to use women as pallbearers in secular funerals, cultural and religious customs can still play a role in determining who can serve as a pallbearer. Some religions may have specific requirements or traditions regarding pallbearers, so it is important to keep these in mind when selecting individuals.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, women can serve as pallbearers if they choose to do so. There are no laws or regulations that prevent them from serving in this capacity, and most funeral homes and religious institutions do not have gender requirements for pallbearers. The movement towards gender equality in pallbearer roles is a reflection of progress toward breaking down gender barriers in all areas of society. Finally, who serves as a pallbearer should be chosen based on fit rather than sexual identity.

Female Pallbearer FAQs

Should a woman carry a coffin?

Why do pallbearers have to be men?

Pallbearers have traditionally been men because funeral customs were often based on gender roles and expectations. However, in modern times, both men and women are increasingly being used as pallbearers.

Can a daughter be a pallbearer?

A daughter can indeed serve as a pallbearer. Pallbearers are typically chosen based on their relationship to the deceased as well as their physical ability to carry the casket.

Can pallbearers sit with family?

Pallbearers are typically seated with the family during the funeral service, though this may vary depending on the specific funeral customs and traditions.

Do you pay pallbearers at a funeral?

It is not customary to pay pallbearers at a funeral because serving as a pallbearer is considered an honor and a way to show respect to the deceased. However, if the pallbearers are hired specifically by the funeral home or are part of a professional pallbearer service, they may be compensated, which is typically handled by the funeral home or service.

What is the minimum age for a pallbearer?

There is no specific age requirement for serving as a pallbearer, but it is generally assumed that pallbearers are physically capable of carrying the casket and performing the duties associated with the role.

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Kate is a qualified psychologist (M.A. Psych) by day and writer in the late evenings. When she is not trying to configure websites, Kate can be found walking in nature with a coffee firmly in hand.