Alberta dad learns about son’s death in Victoria after Googling his name, finding obituary

Glen Grier, from Stony Plain, Alta., wanted to send his son a birthday message. Scott Grier, 36, had been living on the streets in Victoria, BC, and his father hadn’t heard from him in a while.

He made a discovery that’s perhaps a parent’s worst fear: finding out through a Google search last week that his child was dead — and has been for the past eight months.

“It got me thinking, nobody notified me so maybe it’s not him, maybe it’s somebody else,” Grier said.

“Things start to go through your head.”

Scott had a hard life. He struggled with addictions and experienced homelessness. He moved from Edmonton to Victoria in 2019, but checked in with family every few months.

Grier said Scott didn’t always have a phone, so the family had a hard time reaching him sometimes and waited for Scott to contact them.

Story continues below advertisement

Read more:

Edmonton family seeks answers in homeless camp death of Ross Gladue: ‘He was a human being’

Read next:

‘Golden Boy’ mummy digitally unwrapped after 2,300 years, secrets revealed

Last week, Grier noted that it had been too long since he’d last heard from his son. He wanted to call so Scott could talk to his seven-year-old daughter, who is in Grier and his wife Michelle’s care.

Grier, who at times became overwhelmed with emotion when speaking with Global News, described his son as a free spirit and fun person.

“He was a wonderful kid, very happy, full of energy. Very loving.”

On Jan. 18 – Scott’s birthday – Grier searched his son’s name online, like he’s done before when trying to make contact.

“Right on top was the missing persons (report) that we did in 2020, where they successfully found him … and right under that is his obituary,” Grier said.

Grier said the posting was blank except for a name, date of birth and that Scott had died May 16, 2022.

Through talking to the police, the coroner and the funeral home the next day, Grier found out finger prints confirmed it was his son, who was cremated and buried eight months ago in Victoria’s Hatley Memorial Gardens cemetery.

Story continues below advertisement


Click to play video: 'Victoria homeless population left out in the cold'


Victoria homeless population left out in the cold


Grier said no effort was made to contact Scott’s family.

When a person with no fixed address dies in BC, the Public and Guardian Trust (PGT) is notified.

If the deceased was under the age of 65 and was receiving benefits from BC’s ministry of social development and poverty reduction (MSDPR), that ministry deals with the person’s funeral arrangements.

For those who weren’t an MSDPR client, the PGT said it determines if the deceased had enough assets to pay for funeral costs and PGT fees. If the person did not have enough assets, PGT will not search extensively for next of kin.

According to a spokesperson from the MSDPR, the coroner in Victoria contacted the PGT about Scott’s death, who determined there was no estate to manage, so the ministry took over and paid to have Scott cremated and his ashes buried.

Story continues below advertisement

The funeral home posted Scott’s obituary online as a courtesy, in hopes a family member would come across it. They are not legally required to do so.

Read more:

Memorial in downtown Edmonton mourns those who died due to homelessness

Read next:

Children died from drinking unpasteurized raw milk at Saddle Lake residential school: advocacy group

Grier had filed a missing persons report with Victoria police for Scott in 2020and Scott’s full name and birthday was on the obituary page.

Since the authorities knew Scott’s identity, Grier said the ministry must not have looked very hard if it could not connect him to his son.

“They could have just asked the Victoria Police Department because it was me who filed the missing persons report. They have my name and my number,” he said.

“How did they have his proper name and his proper birthday for them to put (the obituary) up? Somebody had to know something.”


Click to play video: 'More than 800 people in Edmonton living rough outdoors amid freezing conditions'


More than 800 people in Edmonton live rough outdoors amid freezing conditions


Grier said he understands there are homeless people whose next of kin is hard or impossible to find, but that wasn’t the case here.

Story continues below advertisement

“Do they not put the effort into it? I don’t understand why.”

Grier said he thought this had only happened to his family, but said he started hearing from other people that’s how they found out about the deaths of loved ones too.

Now, he and his wife are warning other families they might need to look online if they haven’t heard from a loved one in a while.

“If you’re missing someone, maybe Google them, as weird as that sounds,” Michelle said.

Glen and Michelle Grier from Stony Plain, Alta., say they weren’t notified when their son, Scott, died in Victoria in May 2022.

Global News

Even though he is left with so much pain and many questions, Grier hopes sharing his experience will help lead to change.

He’s speaking out in hopes other families won’t find out about a loved one’s death in the same way.

Story continues below advertisement

“You don’t want to see it happen to other people.

“It’s such a hard way.”


Click to play video: 'Rare bacterial infection plagues Victoria homeless'


Rare bacterial infection plagues Victoria homeless


&copy 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

.

Leave a Comment