Grieving families 'bend rules' to come together during Level 4 - funeral director

Source: 1News

Funeral directors are increasingly concerned at the stress facing grieving families under Alert Level 4 restrictions and the rule-bending lengths they’re going to come together.

One new rule in this latest lockdown says families cannot gather to view bodies at funeral homes – a rule the family of Danny Campbell said was stressful and mentally fatiguing.

The family from Hokianga weren’t able to be with his body in the days leading up to his burial, sister Anne Te Wake said.

“We would have had him at home, we would have had him at the marae, laying in state, so everyone could pay their respects,” Te Wake said.

“Our family is devastated.”

Pastor Paora Teaukura said the laws enforced in response to contagiousness of the Delta variant have also been traumatic for Pasifika families.

“It is very important - in our culture we spend three, four days, even one week to celebrate because he or she is going away from us forever,” he said.

Gary Taylor from the Funeral Directors Association said the rules add to an already difficult time for familes.

“It is very difficult to put into words exactly the emotions that take place within the family and within the funeral home,” Taylor said.

“You're having to give that family the information that they cannot come and see mum or dad or aunt.”

Taylor said some families are now breaking their bubbles and making time for people to gather at home before a body is removed.

“What we're seeing is families starting to look at that rule and maybe bend it or manipulate it a little bit,” he said.

“Families delaying calling a funeral director - we're seeing that across the country.”

Taylor added the apparent inconsistency of level 4 is also adding to the frustration of families.

“You can go to the supermarket, we can queue up two metres distance from each other, wear our masks, go into a supermarket, mix with a load of people we don’t know and come away, and that’s great that we can, but I can’t go and see my mum or my dad should they have died in a controlled environment at a funeral home,” he said.

Te Wake said the Government needs to rethink their approach.

“The change needs to allow the immediate family, whether it be the spouse, children, to actually be able to go to the undertakers and be there.”

Funeral directors told 1 NEWS they called on the Government to relax the rules but are waiting for a response.