Pembroke mom furious to find son's obituary on website
Afterlife aggregates obituaries from across the country, along with offers to purchase gifts
A Pembroke, Ont., woman wants a website that collects obituaries from across the internet shut down after it published her four-year-old son's obituary from 2016 without her permission.
Amy Lavier said she checked the website after seeing a story about Afterlife.co publishing other obituaries without other people's permission.
She was "furious" to find her son Cameron's picture and obituary on a website she'd never heard of before.
"I saw his face pop up on the internet and it broke my heart. I felt guilty. I felt like I had failed him somehow," she said.
Cameron died in November 2016 of a rare form of cancer.
His mom describes him as a "beautiful, intelligent, spunky, happy, amazing little boy."
Lavier said the obituary was one she had paid the funeral home to create for her son after his death, but the funeral home told her it had no knowledge of the site.
She demanded it be taken down and after some time, Afterlife.co complied, but it hasn't answered any of her other questions.
The website sells floral arrangements and virtual memorial candles on each obituary page. It has almost 400 obituaries from Ottawa.
Lavier said she has spoken to family, friends and other bereaved parents who have found obituaries on the site without their knowledge.
Some even include incorrect information.
"Why are they taking these and putting them on their site? Who is sending flowers, lighting candles and things like that that long after somebody has been gone?" she asked
Afterlife.co declined a request from CBC News for an interview, but issued a statement in response.
"We are not a scam. Nothing is underhanded," said Paco Leclerc, a spokesperson for the website. "Any requests for obituaries to be removed are done immediately upon the request being seen."
Leclerc added the company has "no intentions of angering and saddening families."
On its website it claims to be the "largest database of deceased people in Canada" and that it arranges with local vendors to provide floral arrangements.
The website also encourages people to "add or edit information on the deceased."
Lavier said she contacted the Bereavement Authority of Ontario, which oversees the licensed funeral industry.
"Obviously, I want the website to get shut down," she said.
"I'm hoping enough people will start to speak out about it and make this person take this website down."
In a statement, the authority said it has received complaints from funeral establishments about Afterlife, and it is writing a letter to the company advising it that it is breaching the Consumer Protection Act's section on unfair practices.
"Our enforcement mandate is only for licensees, but we feel we can at least warn this company that their actions may be contrary to the law in this province," the statement said.
The authority added the appropriate enforcement body will be notified.