In a move that can be seens as either sensible or callous, American Airlines announced last week that it would be adopting the policies of its soon-to-be partner airline US Airways, and getting rid of bereavement fares.
Is that a huge loss for consumers? Not necessarily. The sad fact is that bereavement fares usually save consumers very little money and are a hassle to obtain. United Airlines, for example, offers just a paltry 5% off the lowest standard fare. JetBlue and Southwest don't offer bereavement fares at all. And Delta takes a case-by-case approach to these situations (read: they don't publish any kind of detailed policy).
So instead of taking the time to call a doctor or a funeral home to get notes for the airline, the best strategy now is to jumpstart your airfares searches when you're in these kinds of situations. Generally, if you're booking a fare within three weeks of departure, prices will tick up every day, so its imperative that you make a move quickly. If you need a flexible fare, you may have to bite the bullet and purchase a much pricier refundable ticket.