A little about cars, mostly about pallbearers.
Last week, I had to go to AutoZone for a few items for my car. I happened to walk in right after I did a funeral, so I was all snazzy and such in my suit and high heels. Grabbing a funnel and a few other things, I proceeded to walk up to the cash register to check out. The gentleman up there gave me the once over and after taking my money asked if I needed any help with the car. Since I know zero about cars I would have normally taken this man up on his offer. However, being on a timeline I politely told the man no thanks. He gave me the once over yet again and said, “Are you sure? I wouldn’t want you ruining that nice suit of yours.” I laughed a little, and once again declined. That just didn’t do it for the guy, though. “What do you do, anyways?”, he asked. Oh boy. Here we go, I thought to myself. I smiled, and told him, “I work in a funeral home.”
And you know, what? He surprised me. He surprised me on a couple of levels, actually. First, he smiled and said Really? Do you know ‘Such and Such’ over at ‘Such and Such Funeral Home? Wow, I thought, he doesn’t think I’m weird and actually knows a funeral director himself. He then surprised me when he told me that he was a ‘professional pallbearer’ for ‘Such and Such’ over at ‘Such and Such Funeral Home.’ And then I walked out of AutoZone with a bitter taste in my mouth.
You see, to me, the idea of a professional pallbearer is so horrid. Now, I can understand if a family does not have enough members of their immediate family and friends to act as a pallbearer, I can then understand why calling in helpers from the funeral home may be necessary. However, I cannot understand why, if the family has enough members, why then they would still choose to not have the honor of acting as a pallbearer. Because it is an honor.
To be a pallbearer means that the family of the deceased is trusting you to carry their loved on to their place of final rest. The family is trusting you to hold their loved on during their last journey. To walk them down the road that they cannot walk themselves. I worked with a family who had five kids. Their dad was sick for over a year. They told me during that year they did everything for him. They changed him, washed him and fed him. When he passed away, the five children and their mother walked him into Church. They said it was the last time they’d be able to do something for him that he wouldn’t be able to do for himself.
I know as funeral directors we can sometimes take the easy way out. Maybe having our staff be the pallbearers instead of the family because we don’t need to explain what to do every time. I know that as family members sometimes it can be difficult to carry a loved on to their final resting place. Maybe by disconnecting yourself from the funeral as much as possible you think that the entire process will be easier. But remember, we have traditions for a reason. And if you’re ever blessed with the honor of being a pallbearer, I hope you do it with pride and love in your heart.