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Trying to pay your respects

A schoolmate of mine died recently. To pay respects to his family, I attended the funeral.

A large group of his friends passed me, and they reeked of marijuana. I could literally smell them from across the room. I know that they had just lost a dear friend, but I was so offended I had to leave. No one else seemed to mind but me.

Now I feel bad because I left behind my personal friends who were mourning. Is it more disrespectful to go to a funeral smelling like drugs, or to leave before the eulogy?

- Grieving in Minnesota

Going somewhere reeking of marijuana would qualify as extremely poor judgment. Attending an emotional event such as a funeral when stoned or drunk is also a mistake, because substance abuse can alter a person's perception of what is going on and lead that person to behave inappropriately. (An example that comes to mind would be a laughing jag - during a eulogy.)

As to leaving a funeral before the eulogy, the polite way to handle it would have been to explain quietly to one or more of your sober friends why you had to go and make your exit discreetly, so as few people as possible noticed you leaving.

Parents, read this

As a security officer at a crowded shopping mall, I am hoping you will spread the word about a serious concern that becomes worse during the holidays: lost children.

This is one of the happiest times of the year, but it's also one of the busiest and most stressful. Parents, please make sure to designate a central location in case your party gets separated. Please understand it is imperative that a child know his or her parents' first and last names. This helps security officers page and locate you in case of emergency. Also, make sure you know pertinent information like your child's height, weight, the clothes they are wearing and the last place he or she was seen.

Remember, seconds count! Most times, a lost child is simply confused and scared, but in case of a true emergency, the more information a parent or guardian can provide, the better the chances are of a quick and happy reunion.

Also, these policies apply to seniors who may have cognitive problems. Thanks for your help, Abby.

- Mall Cop on a Mission

I'm glad to help. I hope parents of small children will take your reminder to heart and review the information with their little ones. Sometimes knowing you are "Mommy" and "Daddy" isn't quite enough.

P.S. You can find more tips for handling these situations at, the Web site of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips.

Universal Press Syndicate