Ontario family upset over use of son's obituary
Published Friday, January 12, 2018 8:54AM EST
An Ottawa-area family is outraged after finding that a website that gathers obituaries off the internet reposted their four-year-old son's obituary without their consent.
Amy Lavier was on Facebook earlier this week when she saw a friend's post about a website called Afterlife.co.
The site posts obituaries and advertises funeral gifts such as flowers and virtual candles
Lavier decided to check if the obituary for her son, Cameron, who died of cancer in November, 2016 was listed and she was shocked by what she found.
“All of a sudden, his beautiful blond hair and blue eyes were right there, on this Afterlife.co,“ she said. “I felt gutted, felt like my son was dying again.”
Lavier says many families don't know that obituaries are being reposted and feel that it's a violation of privacy.
Murphy Funeral Home in Pembroke, Ont. took care of Cameron's funeral. Like many funeral homes, they post tributes and condolence books on their website. The funeral home’s owner, John Huff, says they too had no idea about sites like Afterlife.
“I've emailed them and asked them to take everything that had to do with Murphy Funeral Home off their website,” he said.
The Bereavement Authority of Ontario, which regulates anything having to do with death care in the province, says that over the past couple of weeks, they've heard from several funeral homes and members of the public who are upset about obituaries being posted on third-party websites.
The organization says in Ontario, those websites could be breaching the Consumer Protection Act if they imply co-operation with funeral homes.
Afterlife did not agree to an interview, but in a written response to CTV Ottawa, spokesperson Paco Leclerc said millions of people are pleased with their service and “nothing is underhanded.”
They also told CTV News that they never had any intentions of angering and saddening families or funeral homes because they want to help families and work with funeral homes.
The company also said: "We are a free service helping connect society to the funeral industry and helping people positively reconnect during the loss of a loved one."
The company did not answer questions about what happens to the money donated in memoriam to its site. But said there is no obligation for anyone to purchase anything from their website and flower purchases are fulfilled by local florists.
Lavier contacted the site and asked them to remove her son's obituary. They have since done so, and say they remove obituaries upon request.
Lavier says she hopes she can help other bereaved parents like her.
“I don't want to see anybody else's child remembered in this way, or taken advantage of,” she said.
With a report from CTV Ottawa's Claudia Cautillo