Why didn't Justice Scalia pallbearers use a casket gurney?

Those guys were really struggling with that casket. They were pretty big dudes, but even with the 8 of them, that casket looked heavy.

Seems that someone should have placed a casket gurney outside the hearse and at the top of all the stairs.

As I watched, I kept saying, “Oh no, not another set of stairs!”.

Anyone else get the same impression?

At very formal or very traditional funerals (and I didn’t watch Scalia’s, but I’d guess it fell into both categories), casket gurneys are Simply Not Done. That’s cheating; the “proper” and “respectful” thing is for the pallbearers to do all the work. In other words, tradition and custom.

I know that’s true, slash2k, but some funeral traditions and customs truly suck and should have been buried long ago. Another example is having an old man’s feeble, crippled friends act as pallbearers, sometimes at great risk to their safety.

My uncles military funeral was very tradional and very formal, but he got a gun carriage for his ashes - which could have easily been carried…

I didn’t see the funeral, but the reference to stairs makes me think that perhaps they would have had even more problems trying to wheel the body in and out.

One thing I’ve seen a few times is having both ‘honorary pallbearers’ (the old man’s friends) and ‘pallbearers’ (grandsons, or simply guys provided by the funeral director).

There’s a bit of a clue in the word “pallbearers”.

I’ve done it. Yes, it can be hard work. That’s part of the point, really.

In this case, some of the justice’s former law clerks were honorary pallbearers, while Supreme Court police officers were the pallbearers.

No I would had been surprise to seen casket gurney used when the casket was being brought up the steps of the SC house . Using pallbearers show more respect to me.

I’ve never actually heard of this casket gurney until you mentioned it. When I was a pallbearer, we lifted the casket. We did put it down on something that helped get it into the hearse, and we put it on a mechanical device at the grave site that eventually lowered it into the grave, but the only thing helping us carry it were some poles.

Though, come to think of it, we only carried the casket out, not in. And the hearse was parked rather close by, without any stairs to climb.

Wasn’t the body cremated? Was the cremation done before or after the funeral service? (or not done?) All Catholic funerals I’ve been to involving cremation simply had the urn there. Were his ashes in the casket? If so, it should have been a lot lighter!

I don’t believe he was cremated. Where did you hear that?

There are a number of news references to his wish to be cremated. Whether or not his family actually honored that wish is unclear. My understanding is that Catholics generally frown on cremation.

That’s news to me, since the priest at my parish (a high profile parish in the archdiocese of Detroit) died of a heart attack and was cremated a few years ago.

Here the Catholic Cathedral has just built a columbarium for the ashes of those that have been cremated, so the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle is happy with cremation too.

Tim Conway did a TV movie back in the seventies. Trying to win respect and admiration from his son, he decides to get the Guinness World Record for being on…Roller Skates. Of course there’s a scene where he has to be a pallbearer, and as you see these men carrying a casket out of the church, Conway is rolling along very smoothly and hysterically, heading for a steep set of marble stairs. I remember laughing very hard at that movie.

It depends on what RNATB meant by frowns. The RCC would prefer people were buried intact but does not complain as long as the cremation was not done to express a denial of belief in the existence of the afterlife.

Heh :slight_smile: When I pulled funeral detail in the Army, we had to carry the casket of a retired officer who had ballooned up to somewhere between 300-400 pounds in his golden years. There were six of us carrying the casket but I had two small females on my side and I was holding up almost all the weight. We came so close to dropping the casket it was scary, also we wore the white gloves so it was difficult to keep a grip on the thing right from the start.

Right as we were about to bring the casket down on the hoist thing whatever you call it to lower the casket it was about to fall but I surreptitiously was able to put my knee under the casket to keep it from falling down. We were on the opposite side of the family so they didn’t notice but when the E-7 in charge of us yelled at me about it I told him off and indicated that the alternative was the casket falling on the ground in front of the family.

Not for forty years.

What? Why weren’t they in the middle on either side?

When I was a pall bearer, we pushed the casket on a gurney, but the (large and young) funeral home workers gracefully replaced us when any actual lifting was necessary. I believe the idea was that we were respectfully and lovingly escorting the deceased, not undergoing a trial of strength.