People handle grief in different ways, and while you might cope with the loss of a loved one by talking to family members or a grief counselor, looking through old photo albums, or even writing down some thoughts in a diary, someone else may turn to the bottle. Drinking is a common way to numb pain, which means that some individuals will rely on alcohol after a loved one has passed. This can pose problems at the funeral — perhaps someone shows up intoxicated, or there's alcohol being served at a reception that follows the funeral service and someone consumes too much. Here are some tips for handling such an individual.
Usher the Person Outside
Should you believe that someone is under the influence of alcohol at the funeral service, do your best to encourage the person to go outside with you. Doing so will limit the chance of him or her interrupting the service or making the occasion more difficult for others in attendance. You don't need to be forceful, but you should be convincing. For example, put your hand gently on the person's shoulder or back and say, "Let's get some fresh air for a moment." Should the weather outside be unsuitable, see if you can lead the person to a different part of the funeral home, away from the service.
The person made a poor decision in being intoxicated at the funeral service, but you need to be empathetic to the fact that he or she is dealing with grief. The person surely didn't drink with the intention of offending or hurting anyone. The person may react to your sequestering him or her in a number of ways, including becoming sad and apologizing. Explain that you understand the person's actions — even if you don't agree with them — and that you know this is a tough time for the person. Try to be reassuring, rather than convincing the person that he or she did something wrong.
Determine Next Steps
There are several approaches that you can take in such a situation. If the person indicates that he or she can behave appropriately, you may want to allow him or her into the service. Alternatively, if the person is in no shape to attend such an event, you may want to ask a funeral home attendant to call a taxi and arrange transportation home for the person. Yet another option is to see if the funeral home has A/V equipment set up. Often, in the case of heavily attended services, the funeral home will show a live stream of the service on a screen in a different room. You may want the intoxicated person to watch in private.
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