Author Topic: s/o of don't want to be bm - I don't want to be a pallbearer.  (Read 2728 times)

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snappylt

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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?)

StarDrifter

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Re: s/o of don't want to be bm - I don't want to be a pallbearer.
« Reply #1 on: March 16, 2013, 03:34:50 AM »
I know that my younger brother is often asked to be a pallbearer because he is a tall, strong young man, and except for one particular uncle he has always declined.

It is a request, though when he was 18 he was asked to be a pallbearer for a classmate who had committed suicide, and when a particular reacher found out that he had declined, she began to berate him about it, calling him disprespectful, not realising that the two ladies standing with my brother were me and our mother. Mum stepped in front of Bro (Bro is 6'7", mum is 5'3") and told the teacher to pull her head in (in as many words) and that carrying a coffin or not was a personal decision and that trying to guilt a teenager into it was appalling.

As for actual families, none have ever objected to his refusal to be a pallbearer.

... it might frighten them.
Victoria,

Kiara

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Re: s/o of don't want to be bm - I don't want to be a pallbearer.
« Reply #2 on: March 16, 2013, 11:17:19 AM »
It's a request, nothing more.  I've been to two funerals that required pallbearers, and no one blinked an eye when some family members said no.  (Was my dad's parents and my dad and his brother both said no - medical reasons for one, personal reasons for the other.)  I stepped in for dad's father, but it was my choice.  I think anyone who yells at someone for not being a pallbearer should hush up and have their head examined.

Queen of Clubs

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Re: s/o of don't want to be bm - I don't want to be a pallbearer.
« Reply #3 on: March 16, 2013, 01:01:27 PM »
It's a request, nothing more.  I've been to two funerals that required pallbearers, and no one blinked an eye when some family members said no.  (Was my dad's parents and my dad and his brother both said no - medical reasons for one, personal reasons for the other.)  I stepped in for dad's father, but it was my choice.  I think anyone who yells at someone for not being a pallbearer should hush up and have their head examined.

I agree with the bolded so much.  If the askee feels unable to do it for physical/emotional reasons, they should decline.  If they don't want to do it because they didn't think that highly of the deceased, they should decline.  IMO, being a pallbearer is one of the last honours you can show to someone; as long as you decline politely (for whatever reason) you're in the clear and no one should pressurise anyone to change their mind.

Winterlight

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Re: s/o of don't want to be bm - I don't want to be a pallbearer.
« Reply #4 on: March 16, 2013, 01:26:30 PM »
It's a request. I'd probably do it if they couldn't find someone else, unless I was ill or too distressed, but it is not a command.
If wisdom’s ways you wisely seek,
Five things observe with care,
To whom you speak,
Of whom you speak,
And how, and when, and where.
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GSNW

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Re: s/o of don't want to be bm - I don't want to be a pallbearer.
« Reply #5 on: March 16, 2013, 07:59:43 PM »
I'm confused at the last minute nature of the requests made to OP.  Did someone not show up or is this normally something handled on the spot?

HorseFreak

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Re: s/o of don't want to be bm - I don't want to be a pallbearer.
« Reply #6 on: March 16, 2013, 09:13:12 PM »
I'm confused at the last minute nature of the requests made to OP.  Did someone not show up or is this normally something handled on the spot?

When I was asked to be a pallbearer for my grandmother's funeral I was asked right before, though I was given some warning I might be asked. It wasn't a big deal to decline if I wanted, particularly since I have a bad back. I did it and the others just took on most of the weight so I wouldn't be injured.

StarDrifter

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Re: s/o of don't want to be bm - I don't want to be a pallbearer.
« Reply #7 on: March 16, 2013, 09:41:31 PM »
In all of the instances where my brother was asked to be a pallbearer it happened either the day before the funeral or at the service itself - it's a task that people don't think about/don't like to think about and often gets overlooked, hence it's usually a last minute request.
... it might frighten them.
Victoria,

Kiara

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Re: s/o of don't want to be bm - I don't want to be a pallbearer.
« Reply #8 on: March 17, 2013, 10:53:50 AM »
I'm confused at the last minute nature of the requests made to OP.  Did someone not show up or is this normally something handled on the spot?

When I was one for my grandfather, it was decided the day before - we all started thinking about it because my great-uncle was worried that there weren't enough people.  There weren't, so I decided on my own to offer to make him feel better.  (Plus, on that side of the family, granddad was one of the few who liked me.  Was my pleasure to honor him.)