A death certificate is an official document that records the date, time, place, and cause of death of a person. It is issued by a medical professional or a government authority, and it is required for various legal and administrative purposes, such as settling the estate, claiming insurance benefits, and arranging the funeral. However, sometimes the cause of death is not immediately clear or obvious, and it may take some time to determine it. In such cases, the death certificate will have a “pending” status for the cause of death. This article will explain what this means, why it happens, and how to handle it.
What Does “Pending” Cause of Death Mean?
A cause of death will be listed as “pending” on a death certificate whenever someone is found dead and the immediate reason isn’t obvious. In these situations, the body will be sent to a medical examiner or a coroner, who will conduct an autopsy and other tests to find out the exact cause and manner of death. This process can take several weeks or even months, depending on the complexity of the case and the availability of the resources. Until then, the death certificate will have a “pending” status for the cause of death, indicating that the investigation is still ongoing.
Why Does It Matter?
Having a “pending” cause of death on a death certificate can cause some difficulties and inconveniences for the family and friends of the deceased. For one thing, it can delay the closure and the grieving process, as they may not be able to fully understand or accept what happened to their loved one. For another, it can affect the legal and financial matters that need to be resolved after the death, such as probating the will, accessing the bank accounts, transferring the property, or claiming the insurance benefits. Some of these tasks may require a certified copy of the death certificate with the final cause of death, which may not be available until the investigation is completed.
How to Deal With It?
If you are faced with a situation where the cause of death of your loved one is pending, there are some steps you can take to cope with it and to expedite the process. Here are some suggestions:
- Be patient and respectful. The medical examiner or the coroner is doing their best to find out the truth and to provide you with accurate information. They may have a heavy workload and a limited budget, and they may encounter some challenges or complications along the way. Do not pressure them or harass them, as this will only make things worse. Instead, be polite and cooperative, and trust that they will do their job as soon as possible.
- Stay informed and updated. You have the right to know the status and the progress of the investigation, and to receive a copy of the final report when it is ready. You can contact the office of the medical examiner or the coroner and ask for updates periodically, but do not call them too frequently or expect them to give you a specific timeline. You can also check their website or their social media accounts, if they have any, for any announcements or notices. You can also consult with a lawyer or a funeral director, who may have some experience or connections with the authorities, and who may be able to assist you or advise you on what to do.
- Prepare the necessary documents and information. While you are waiting for the final cause of death, you can start gathering and organizing the documents and information that you will need for the legal and financial matters that follow the death. These may include the will, the birth certificate, the marriage certificate, the social security number, the tax returns, the bank statements, the property deeds, the insurance policies, and the contact details of the beneficiaries, creditors, and lawyers. Having these ready will save you time and hassle when you receive the final death certificate.
- Seek support and counseling. Dealing with the death of a loved one is hard enough, but having to deal with the uncertainty and the delay of the cause of death can make it even harder. You may feel frustrated, angry, confused, or depressed, and you may need some help to cope with your emotions and to process your loss. You can reach out to your family and friends, who may be going through the same thing, and share your feelings and thoughts with them. You can also join a support group, where you can meet and talk to other people who have experienced a similar situation, and who can offer you some comfort and guidance. You can also seek professional counseling, where you can get some expert advice and therapy, and where you can learn some coping skills and strategies.
Death certificate cause of death pending is a temporary and uncommon status that indicates that the cause of death of a person is still under investigation. It can cause some challenges and problems for the family and friends of the deceased, but it can also be resolved and overcome with some patience, communication, preparation, and support. It is important to remember that the final cause of death will be determined and reported eventually, and that the death certificate will be updated and corrected accordingly. Until then, the best thing to do is to focus on honoring and remembering your loved one, and to take care of yourself and your loved ones.