Historically, pallbearers were necessary to carry the coffin from the ceremony to the graveside. Today, the role of the pallbearer has become symbolic.
The term ‘pallbearer’ is derived from the word ‘pall’ which originally referred to the heavy cloth that is draped over a coffin, and the person that would carry it. Today, the term ‘pallbearer’ is used to signify someone who carries the coffin.
Leadbetter & Murphy have bearers to carry the coffin on their shoulders, and the funeral director walks a few paces in front. In recent times, many mourners now prefer to carry the coffin themselves when possible. It can be seen as a mark of respect for family and friends to perform this duty, whether carrying the coffin or bearing it on their shoulders.