Obituary websites try to make a killing

Newspapers have been making money from obituaries for years but with the internet not missing many tricks in making a buck, announcing someone’s death can cause some real problems.

Several websites mine online obituaries and post them with links to advertisers who want to sell flowers or other memorials to people who want to express their sympathies.

In Calgary, one such website — — lifted the obituary of Erik Laursen, who died last Wednesday at 84. The obituary asked that in lieu of flowers, people make a donation to the charity of their choice.

The renegade website, however, announced the death and suggested people send flowers.

Here’s a cached copy of the now deleted death announcement.

The problem, his son, Rick tells the CBC, is that his mother has dementia and doesn’t realize her husband is dead.

“My mother… had she read the card, then she would have found out inadvertently that her husband of over 60 years was no longer alive,” he tells the network.

“Any reminders of that, such as people coming to the house to offer condolences, would just be upsetting to her and would cause more permanent damage to the way her brain functions,” he said.

The website removed the obit after objections but did not respond to questions.