Kathryn Connell says her daughter is in heaven, but she's stuck in limbo.
"The silence in my house is killing me," Kathryn says. "'Cause I’m used to laughter and smiles and cutting up and crazy because we were fun."
The past two and a half weeks have been far from that normal. Her daughter Kayla Zaccone died December 21, 2018.
"She got sick and was throwing up blood and then she stopped breathing, so I started CPR and called 911. But there was nothing anyone else could do by then, she was already gone."
Her 23-year-old daughter Kayla had special needs. She couldn't walk or talk regularly, but all signs around her mother's home show she was happy; beaming in every picture.
Kathryn still doesn't know what caused her daughter's death, but says she was seen at two different hospitals before she died.
"It’s the most devastating thing that I think I can feel, cause I’m completely lost now without her. I took care of her for 23 years."
What's worse is that Kathryn says doctors at both hospitals are refusing to sign Kayla's death certificate.
That means legally, her daughter can't be cremated yet.
"Can you imagine? Your child laying in a morgue or somewhere for 3 weeks and nobody wants to help you? It's a horrible feeling."
Under North Carolina state law, the physician, physician's assistant, nurse practitioner or medical examiner have 3 days after a death to complete the death certificate. But it doesn't say what happens if they miss that deadline or on what grounds they can refuse.
We also reached out to DHHS, who manages death certificates, to see if they could help us find a solution. We have not gotten any answers yet.
"It’s bad enough to lose my child, not being able to put her down to rest? It’s horrible," Kathryn says.
This happens more often than you might think. The North Carolina State Medical Board says it receives calls about this all the time.
In fact, in October, they posted an idea for policy change they hope will be considered. Part of it explains that doctors should not decline to sign off on death certificates because they don't know the exact cause of death or they think it's someone else's responsibility.
Kathryn just hopes someone will take responsibility soon.
" I know her soul is in heaven, but her body deserves to be at peace."