Historically, pallbearers were absolutely essential to a funeral - their role was to carry the coffin from the ceremony to the graveside. In modern day, the role of the pallbearer has become symbolic.
The term ‘pallbearer’ comes from the word ‘pall’, which historically is the heavy cloth that is draped over a coffin, and a person that would carry it and place it over the coffin. Today, the term ‘pallbearer’ is used to describe someone who bears the coffin.
Maddock have bearers to carry the coffin on their shoulders, with the funeral director walking 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.