Designate A Backup Person For These Important Funeral-Related Roles

As you move through the process of planning the funeral for a loved one, you'll find yourself delegating important roles to those around you. This is especially the case if your deceased family member didn't specify the people he or she wanted involved in the ceremony, so you and your family will likely discuss amongst yourself who will perform the various duties. It can be useful to think about designating some backup people for the most important roles. Although you should expect that each person will indeed attend the funeral, there's always the chance that an illness could prevent someone from taking part on the day in question. Here are some roles for which you should have backups.


It's customary to assign the duties of pallbearer to several individuals. The exact number can vary, but some people pick around six people to fulfill this role. If one person falls ill before the funeral, you won't have to scramble to find a backup if you plan in advance. While a funeral home staff member could always help with this job, it's nice if you can find someone to give the honor to. Generally, an adult or young adult who is a family member or close family of the deceased person is an ideal choice, provided that he or she feels physically capable of doing this job.


Depending on the nature of the funeral service, you may have someone who will play the piano or violin, or even sing at a designated time. Live music will have an important role in the service, so your musician's illness-related absence could be a challenge. You'll feel less stressed if you assign someone in a backup role. This is especially important if someone will be singing, as a common head cold could prevent a singer from performing at the service.

Scripture Readers

At many funerals, one or more people will be chosen to read scripture passages that had a significant importance to your late family member. This is another valuable role to which you should assign a backup. While anyone could be asked to read a piece of scripture if the main person cannot, many people have a fear of speaking to an audience and may struggle with the assignment. If you assign a backup, this person can practice the reading in advance to increase the likelihood that this part of the funeral goes smoothly.