Medical Examiners have it rough? It’s the families who do!

May 18, 2014

In today’s Raleigh newspaper, they have started a five-part series  entitled “Fatally Flawed” based on the Charlotte Observer’s investigation into North Carolina’s medical examiners. This is a topic of discussion in our survivors of suicide loss groups as well as law enforcement keeping items of the deceased for months, or years, on end.

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Example of Death Certificate

I’ve often wondered what would I go to bat for to make changes in our society. That’s it – how our bereaved are treated when a loved one dies by means other than a natural death. I read that the governor has proposed some changes as well as the DHHS secretary. I sure hope some changes are made.

Families who have lost someone via suicide, murder, and unexplained methods are already befuddled. Adding to their misery by taking months to complete an autopsy so a death certificate can be issued is ridiculous.

Fortunately we didn’t wait too long for my son’s autopsy report to arrive, or his death certificate. It was obvious how he died, but really only to me, as I was the one who found him.

Suicides are considered an active crime scene until all the pieces are glued together. I had to explain what I did when I found my son, where the rope was, etc. I don’t remember much of what was said but I do know the Flower Mound (TX) investigator who handled Cameron’s death was excellent in his demeanor. He did most of his investigating after EMS left and me with a police officer heading to the hospital.

Death certificates are so vital for the bereaved. Insurance policies are not paid until it is in hand. Once again I didn’t have much to deal with Cameron’s death due to his age (18).  There was no life insurance policy since your children are not supposed to die. I do remember needing his death certificate to transfer mileage from his American Airlines account to mine.  And to cancel his cell phone service without being changed a disconnect fee.

I can only imagine all the reasons why adults need death certificates when another adult dies.

I’ll be reading the weeklong series and see if any good directives come out of it. If they need someone to go talk to political officials, I know where I can find many as well as myself.

The grieving do not need extra grief!

 

Link to article about medical examiners and death certificates.

Do you have a story to share about the length of time it took you to receive a death certificate? Or items back from the police or sheriffs department? Share them here or via email Carolyn@theshoregriefcenter.org.