A Guide to Bearing

Being asked to be a “Bearer” or “Pallbearer” for a loved one or a friend is one of the greatest honours of all.

Bearers can be male or female, family or friend and of various height. You may wish to shoulder your loved one, or choose to use a wheel bier, or carry the coffin at waist height. Each option allows you to decide what is best in your circumstance. Bearers can be made up of four or six individuals.

At Samuel Sigley & Sons, Paul, Samuel, and Joseph will be on hand throughout the funeral to advise, and guide you through all aspects of bearing. This guide does not replace the personal guidance given on the day, but adds a little more information for those that may be bearing for the first time or a refresher for those who require it.

Bearing into a Church or Service Hall
The coffin always travels foot first, this is the narrow end of the coffin and this is the direction that the coffin will rest when in Church.

Churches and Service Halls vary greatly, and we will be on hand to guide you through the specific details on the day.

Bearers traditionally sit on the front pew opposite the closest family members, however if you wish to rejoin your family or partner this is possible, but please make sure you have access to rejoin the coffin at the end of the service. At the end of the service Joseph or Samuel will ask you to take your original positions, before turning the coffin and recessing foot first.

Bearing at a Cemetery
At a cemetery or graveside our staff will assist you with the approach to the grave, including advice with lowering the coffin. The choice of carrying the coffin or using the wheel-bier can me made, taking into account the terrain and access.

Webbing’s are the straps used to lower a coffin into a grave, these will be provided for you, and Joseph and Samuel will guide you with the simple technique.

Some people may not wish to lower the coffin at the graveside, if this is the case please make Paul or Michael aware prior to the funeral day.

Please note- due to health and safety restrictions, some city cemeteries do not allow family bearers at the graveside. If this is applicable, you will be made aware by Paul or Michael prior to the day.

Bearing at a Crematorium
Bearing a coffin at a crematorium can vary on the layout of the chapel. Often the coffin will be placed on a catafalque or alter, after this the bearers are relieved of their duties, as the coffin is taken to the crematory by the crematorium.
Bearing at shoulder height
Where possible Paul, Joseph and Samuel will ask you to trial the lift to the shoulder, this allows a moment out of the public eye to check your position and practice raising and lowering the coffin.

Bring a glove or a handkerchief to place on your shoulder, underneath your jacket or coat, this will allow significant comfort.

Wear appropriate footwear, especially if your presence is needed at the graveside.

If you have a history of back pain or shoulder injury, choosing a different method of bearing may be something to consider.

When at the front of the church a trestle will be provided for you to place the coffin.

Bearing using a Wheel-Bier
When placing onto a wheel-bier the shoulder curve of the coffin should align with the back edge of the wheel-bier.

When raising up steps our staff will guide you to the lifting handles on the wheel-bier, these can be found on all four corners.

Although using a wheel-bier is less physically demanding, there is still some lifting involved, this may include lifting into and out of the hearse. If using Carmountside or Macclesfield Crematorium, you will need to lift up the initial steps.

We hope that you have found this guide useful, if you have any questions which remain unanswered please contact our friendly team, who will be happy to assist you. If you forget any points please don’t worry, we are on hand during the entirety of your role as bearers to assist, and allow you to carry out one of the greatest honours of all.

Paul, Joseph and Samuel at Samuel Sigley & Sons, Leek.

Send Us Your Queries