3 Things We Say at the Mortuary

3 Things We Say at the Mortuary

3 Things We Say at the Mortuary

Photo Courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/BrianAJackson

Usually when people think of the funeral profession they think about the sadness associated with our position and have trouble going (or don’t want to go) beyond that. But beyond the grief that surrounds my job, I’ve found that death brings clarity to our perspective and at O’Connor, this perspective is ingrained in how we treat each other and the families that walk through our doors.

I’m just about to wrap up my first year at O’Connor and I thought I’d share with you some of the unique mantras we say to each other here at work.

“Be Flexible”

With all service-oriented professions, curve balls are thrown at all hours of the day. There are many people involved and with all the preparation that goes into planning a funeral service, there are still events that take place that you can’t plan for. By having an attitude that can “be flexible,” it allows us to improvise as the family needs us to and helps us to not get hung up if something unexpected happens or if something does not go as exactly planned.

When Dr. Bill Hoy came to our mortuary this past September for a staff training, one of the topics he discussed was giving yourself margin. This means building into your daily schedule a time-buffer between events. This way if things don’t turn out “as scheduled” – and you can usually rely on that happening – instead of being stressed, your margin gives you the time-flex needed and helps you maintain a calm mind as you move into the next event.

“Slow is Fast”

There can be some anxiety when you feel you have to get something done perfectly. When I first started directing funeral services, and it still happens on occasion, I would walk really fast to get something done or I would have a look of panic on my face because I was paranoid that I was forgetting something. Rushing to do something only allowed people to sense that I was stressed and anxious.

It took some time and experience to find the balance between getting it done quickly and doing the job right. My action plan now is to get the details taken care of, set-up for success, let the day take its course, and breathe!

“Relationships First, Task Second”

Photo Courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/alexh

Photo Courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/alexh

Sometimes I find that in needing to complete a task I focus too much on the logistics and execution of the project instead of the people I am trying to help.

It’s unfortunate that our profession has a reputation of too much business talk and not enough personal touch. With the aim of changing that stereotype, “Relationship first, task second,” is truly the top priority here at O’Connor and a huge part of why I love working here. To have chiefs and staff that believes in and practices this attitude helps us to practice it genuinely as we serve families. And really, the task is going to get completed. Task schmask. It’s people that matter.

If a year at a mortuary doesn’t give you a new perspective on life, nothing will. I want to encourage you to practice these lessons in your own daily life. Live in a way you won’t regret & don’t lose sight of the value of a relationship.

Death:  It’s not business, it’s personal.

What do you THINK . . .

If you applied just one of these mantras to your professional/personal life, how would it be different?

What is your “work mantra”?

Molly Keating
Molly Keating
Hello! I'm Molly and I run & manage the Blog here at O'Connor. I grew up in a mortuary with a mortician for a father who's deep respect for the profession inspired me to give working at a mortuary a try. Work at O'Connor has brought together two of my deep passions, writing & grief awareness. In 2016 I earned Certification in the field of Thanatology, the study of Death, Dying and Bereavement. I am honored to be able to speak on these taboo topics with knowledge, compassion, and a unique perspective. I want to sincerely thank you for following & reading the blog, I hope that this is a healing place for you.


  1. Jeff Turner says:


    Thank you for sharing the “things we say”. It’s true, we really do and it is fun to read about it. These and other sayings are a part of our everyday culture and it is easy to become accustomed to them, to the point where we forget just how great these sayings are. They are only great because we believe it and intentionally practice them everyday.

    It is great to have you in the family Lauren. I look forward to seeing where your career in this profession will take you.


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