A woman found out she was dead after her parents told news outlets they were grieving her 'loss' by feeding ducks
By Hannah Getahun,
Alicia Rowe discovered multiple news outlets reported her death despite her being alive.
Following the discovery, she contacted the Houston Chronicle to correct the error.
Her parents, who went viral for their HOA lawsuit, told reporters they fed ducks to grieve her loss.
Alicia Rowe first learned of her passage beyond the veil while reading an article on the Daily Mail.
"It is pretty shocking, to say the least, to kind of figure out that you've died, and to figure that out from a newspaper from across the globe," Rowe told Insider.
Outlets including Insider reported in July that Rowe, an Austin-based therapist, died 10 years ago. The detail was a part of a larger story on Rowe's parents, who were suing their HOA for the right to feed ducks in their neighborhood.
Rowe's mother, Kathleen Rowe, told her lawyer that feeding the ducks helped her to cope with the "loss" of her daughter, which outlets — including the outlet that broke the story, the Houston Chronicle — interpreted to mean her death.
Even the parents' lawyer, who passed along the information to outlets, told the Chronicle that he believed their daughter had died.
"She reiterated her words to me. And it was that she had lost her daughter," Richard Weaver, the parents' attorney, told the Chronicle. "When she told me she'd lost her daughter, I thought she'd passed away."
Rowe contacted the Chronicle to clarify that she was alive, but estranged, from her parents, which she said resulted from "physical and emotional abuse" stemming from lies they told about her.
Rowe said she was "incredibly angry" when she found out her parents used her to "garner sympathy" for their case.
"I will admit it was kind of the ultimate exposure therapy to suddenly be surrounded by information about my mother and childhood trauma and all of that," Rowe said.
However, Rowe said she's found some humor in the situation, and pointed to a set of photos she took with the Chronicle. In them, she's wearing a shirt that says "not dead" on the front with a crossed-out image of a hand feeding a duck on the back.
"I'm trying to have a good sense of humor about it and try to stay positive about this whole situation because it'd be very easy to just kind of sink into this in a not great way," Rowe said.
In a statement to Insider, Weaver said his client was "sorry for the confusion resulting from the statement that she lost her daughter."
"Other than the desire to reunite with her daughter she indicated that she would like to keep the family matter private," the statement said.
Though it's unknown if Rowe's parents meant for people to erroneously interpret their statement, Rowe said she has reason to believe her mother wanted to imply she was dead.
Rowe said shortly after her decision to cut ties with her family, her mother began sending letters to her saying she was telling people her daughter was dead. She also planted a "memorial garden" in Rowe's honor, and took her photos down around the house, according to Rowe.
"And if I wanted to correct this information, I was going to need to come back and begin talking to my family again, and then go to these people and let them know that I wasn't dead and that I had made a mistake and that it was on me that I stopped talking to my parents," Rowe said.
Weaver did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment on this information.
As for how Rowe plans to move on forward from this situation, she said that she hopes the public attention on her will help shed the stigma on estrangement from parents.
"It can be incredibly hard to define and hold those boundaries completely alone, so whether it's friends or other family members or therapists, just get support... Get somebody that can back you up and remind you that you're doing the right thing because it is a really, really difficult decision to decide to go no contact with, especially, parents," Rowe said. "But it can also be a really life-saving and life-changing thing."
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