Can You Serve Alcohol at a Memorial?

Is it okay to serve alcohol at a memorial? Read both takes below.
Can You Serve Alcohol at a Memorial?

The act of serving alcohol at a memorial isn’t necessarily a faux pas, but it may not be appropriate (or necessary) in certain circumstances. Let’s take a look at some pros and cons below.

The defence for serving alcohol at a memorial

Here are three arguments for serving alcohol at a memorial:

Alcohol can help lighten the mood

Losing a loved one is an isolating and painful experience. Funerals, memorials and wakes are solemn settings, making the grieving process even more challenging. Whether closely connected or estranged, dealing with the loss is difficult.

To help cope with intense grief, some choose to serve alcohol. This not only helps individuals navigate their emotions but also facilitates conversation among mourners who may not know each other, creating a space to share memories of the departed.

Alcohol can help celebrate a life

Alcohol is often associated with celebrations – birthdays, engagements, weddings and happy times spent with family and friends. Those in attendance can raise a glass, share fond memories and celebrate the life and legacy of the person they lost.

Note that you don’t need alcohol to raise a glass and give a toast. There are plenty of non-alcoholic options that taste just as good, without giving your guests (and yourself) a wine headache … or a next-day hangover.

Personal touch

If the deceased had a signature drink, such as a whisky neat or an Old Fashioned cocktail, consider serving it at their memorial. Extend this personal touch by including their favourite foods and playing their preferred music genre. Tailoring memorials to reflect the individual's personality is a beautiful way to celebrate their life.

The defence for not serving alcohol at a memorial

On the flip side, there is some logic in sticking to non-alcoholic options:

Personal, cultural or religious reasons

If the person who died abstained from alcohol on personal, cultural or religious grounds, it would likely be considered disrespectful to serve alcoholic drinks at their memorial. However, different cultures and religions have different views on drinking alcohol and how appropriate it is during particular settings, such as a memorial.

If you are unsure, serve non-alcoholic drinks. You can always bring out the alcohol for a private gathering after the memorial. 

Alcohol is a depressant

At a time when emotions are already flying high, it might not be a good idea to have copious amounts of alcohol at the ready. For some mourners, consuming alcohol can amplify feelings of sadness, anger, or depression, potentially resulting in conflicts or inappropriate behaviour.

This heightened emotional state can divert from the intended purpose of the event and cause distress among attendees.

Consider costs

Funerals, memorials, burial plots and related expenses all add up. If the deceased has prepaid for their funeral and covered all the costs, that’s another story. However, it’s worth factoring in the expense of serving alcohol.

If the memorial is held at a venue, note that the prices for each bottle or glass may be inflated, potentially resulting in an unexpected bill. When purchasing from a liquor store, be sure to inquire about their return policy for opened, sealed containers in case of excess. Some retailers or wholesalers may accept returns for unopened items if you keep the receipt handy.

Wrap up

So there you have it: the defence for and against serving alcohol at a memorial. Note that there is no right or wrong way to organise a memorial – the important thing is that mourners have a chance to say goodbye to the deceased and celebrate the person they knew. If you do decide to serve alcohol, consider diverse drink options, including water, mocktails, tea and coffee, as not everyone may choose or be able to consume alcohol. 

If the idea of prepaying for your funeral sounds of interest, you can organise it with Willed today.

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