I was reading the "don't want to be a bridesmaid" thread and got to thinking about this: I don't want to be a pallbearer.
Twice in my adult life I have been asked to be a pallbearer, and both times I have very politely declined the honor. In the first case, it was the funeral of my elderly aunt who had been so very kind to me when I was a teenager. I was approached an hour before the funeral and asked if I would be a pallbearer. I was feeling very very sad that day and I was afraid I would burst into tears at any moment, so I declined with apologies. I did say that if there was nobody else available I would of course help out, but that I felt so sad that day, could they please find someone else. (They did, and no one ever questioned me about it.)
The second case was the funeral of my wife's uncle. I was asked when I arrived at the funeral home a half hour before the service if I would please be a pallbearer. Honestly, I had had a very low opinion of that uncle-by-marriage since the vacation when he had repeatedly and willfully endangered the life of our toddler son. I had little respect for a grown man who behaved in the dangerous and selfish way he had behaved toward our son, and I had absolutely no interest in honoring him by being his pallbearer. Our children were still little at the time of his funeral, so I politely made the excuse that I was sorry, but I needed to sit with our children to mind them during the service because my wife (who was weeping copiously) was too upset to watch the kids. Again, my excuse (a false excuse this time) was accepted and nobody questioned me about it later.
My own opinion is that I was OK, that a request to be a pallbearer is exactly that, a request that can be politely accepted or politely rejected. I'm curious to know if other people have had similar or different experiences. (Does anyone feel that is a terrible insult to politely decline a request to be a pallbearer?)