Weeks after woman dies, Tampa family still can’t get death certificate or have funeral

Better Call Behnken

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Penny Hart just wants to have a funeral for her mother, who passed away Jan. 12 of natural causes, and put her to rest.

But she says the family’s grief was prolonged because no one would give them answers about signing off on the death certificate so the funeral home could proceed with arrangements.

“I find it really appalling that you have to have your loved one waiting in refrigeration for that long,” Hart said.

Darlene Raff died Jan. 12, but for some reason there was no signed death certificate, meaning Hart couldn’t move forward with a funeral.

Investigator Shannon Behnken called the doctor, the funeral home and even went to the Medical Examiner’s Office in Hillsborough County.

Officials there said the certificate was signed electronically by Raff’s doctor today, and they acted quickly to process the certificate so the funeral home can now move forward.

Hart said she is relieved and hopes this means she can finally start to get closure.

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