6 Words Every Funeral Director Should Remove From Their Vocabulary Today

As a funeral professional, you spend most of your time speaking with people. 

Families, florists, co-workers, nurses, banks… the list goes on.

And believe it or not, the words you choose to say have immense power. One tiny word in a sentence can change the whole attitude around a situation.

In this business, it’s all about being solution oriented, optimistic, and helpful. So using words that imply the opposite can be harmful in your connections, both with yourself and others.

So take a look at these 6 words to cut out from your vocabulary below, and what to try instead:

Word #1: “Busy”

Busy is one of those words that is so easy to use as an excuse as a bandaid of sorts. Except, busy doesn’t really mean anything, does it? If you’re too busy for something, really, you just don’t want to make time for something. We hate to say it, but it’s true. EVERYONE is busy. And that means everyone has to make time for the things that are important to them. No excuses. Time to take some responsibility for our daily decisions!

Instead, try: Telling people what you’re up to. 

Maybe you can’t come because you procrastinated printing out personalized memorabilia for a family and you’ve got to do it today. You don’t have to give them all the details. But, by sharing the truth, you will be able to catch your time management habits, or even receive support from the person you’re speaking to in some way. You never know until you share!


Word #2: “Sorry”

Uh oh. This word. Probably a word that comes up at least 100 times a day for you, funeral director. “I’m sorry for your loss”, “I’m sorry about my mistake”, or “I’m sorry you have to deal with XYZ” may feel like a few repeat tracks in your vocabulary. Except, sorry isn’t very empowering for you or the other person, unless you’re truly apologizing for something. And even then, sorry doesn’t really cut it anymore, does it?

Instead, try: Saying thank you

If you made a mistake, instead of straight up apologizing and thank that person for bringing it to your attention. For example, instead of apologizing for being late, try saying “Thank you for being patient with my tardiness, I’m working on it everyday”. Feel how much more responsible and adult like that feels? We feel it too!


Word #3: “But” 

“But” has the tendency to be a very negative word in any sentence. For example, imagine being a potential family on the line with a customer service agent with your funeral home. They ask if you do payment plans. You say “Thanks for calling in, but at this time we don’t offer payment plans”. Feels very negative, right?

Instead, try: “And”…  or cutting “but” out completely.

What if you said “Thanks for calling in. At this time we don’t have a payment plan.” Already sounds a bit more positive, right? What if you said “Thanks for calling in. At this time we don’t have payment plans, and we are taking your request into account now.” That feels very reinforcing, yea?


Word #4: “Always” and “Never”

You’ve probably heard the phrase “This is how we’ve always done things at our funeral home.” Maybe you’ve even heard “We will never do that at our funeral home.” Those are very definite and limiting terms that rarely lead to problem solving. Both in personal and professional contexts.

Instead, try: Be specific, objective, and use first person.

Also, remember to stick to the facts. The goal here is to solve an issue or find a solution, rather than making up excuses. So give it a try next time!


Word #5: “Should”

I stopped “should”-ing myself years ago. I also stopped telling other people what they should do. This word isn’t necessarily inspiring. In fact, it usually carries with it a feeling of guilt. When I say I should be eating healthy, I’m guilting myself for being as I am. When I tell people they should probably not work that much, again, I’m guilting them. No one is inspired by guilt. Especially self imposed guilt.

Instead, try: “Could”

How liberating is it to say “I COULD eat healthy today” instead of “I SHOULD eat healthy today”? It gives you choice. Same with others. If you tell someone they could work less if they wanted to, maybe that inspires them to find out how they could make that happen. Again, it goes back to choice. Everything we do is simply a choice. And it’s better to inspire ourselves and others with possibilities, than guilting.


Word #6: “I don’t know”

Ok, maybe this 3 words and not one. But either way, who uses “I don’t know” in 2019? Cut it out! A phrase of impending doom, saying you don’t know shows you don’t really care to know either. In this day and age, it’s hard not to find out answers and solutions.

Instead, try: “Let me find out”.

If you don’t know the answer to a question, and you want to show a family, a partner, or a friend that you care, you’ll let them know that you’re trying with this phrase. And if you can’t find out, I’m sure you know someone who can. Again, the theme in this post is about being solution and resolution oriented. Otherwise, you’re adding to the challenge.


What words have you cut out of your vocabulary, funeral director? Tell us in the comments below!

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  1. John

    A very nice article , which give me a good information on my field repatriation services in Egypt , so I’d like to thank the writer for these information and I’d say go on , you are awesome .

  2. Shelley CT

    This is an excellent article on communication for everyone. The world may be a kinder place. Thanks for reminding us

  3. Krystal Penrose

    Thanks Shelley, glad you enjoyed the article!