These resources have been created by people with lived experience of grief and loss and suicide bereavement. They offer tips on how to manage grief, practical information on how tangihanga and funerals may look during this period and information on where to find support.
Grief and Loss Challenges
- Grief is the natural response to losing a loved one. This can present in many ways and emotions may be intensified by requirements around physical distancing.
- With so much happening in the world right now, you may feel overwhelmed or numb. It’s actually ok to be numb for a time, to focus on surviving in the immediate now. Your grief is still there, underneath it all.
- Grief is different for everyone, try not to judge yourself or others. Let go of expectations right now.
Funeral, tangihanga and honouring a person’s life
New Zealand is at alert level one. Funerals and tangihanga are now back to normal with no restrictions.
There are no physical distancing requirements at level one. You can still play it safe by keeping a distance between yourself and people you don't know. Use your judgement.
Funeral Directors and those holding tangihanga are no longer required to keep records of those attending. However for contract tracing purposes, you may want to keep a record of where you've been, when you were there and who you’ve met.
People who are sick with cold or flu-like symptoms are advised not to attend.
Some restrictions still apply: people in managed isolation or quarantine cannot attend funerals or tangihanga. International travel travel restrictions are still in place.
This may affect you if the person you lost lived in another country and you can't travel there, or if people living overseas would like to attend a funeral or tangihanga in New Zealand.
For more information on this please see the Ministry of Health / Manatū Hauora website page for COVID-19 Deaths, funerals and tangihanga:
If for any reason you cannot attend a funeral or tangihanga due to COVID-19 restrictions, the venue where the funeral or tangihanga is being held may be able to supply a video link to watch proceedings online. Or you may like to create your own farewell. You could put up a photo of your loved one, say a karakia / prayer, light a candle, or share memories of that person.
Getting through together - Whāia e tātou te pae tawhiti
Grief can feel isolating. Know it’s not just you, and you are not alone.
- Let people know what’s happened, it’s important that you don’t feel alone in your grief. Seek the support of whānau, friends and colleagues to help you cope.
- Keep a notebook handy and write down anything you may need to remember. Lots can be going on and it can often be hard to focus and keep track of things.
- You might like to nominate someone in your whānau to be the main contact point. This person can liaise with funeral directors and official processes on your behalf. They can also arrange appropriate rituals for you and your mirumiru/bubble.
Distance not Distant -Tinana Tawhiti, Whakaaro Tata
Phone and social media platforms offer us ways to connect and keep in touch, to share memories, photos and stories of the person who has died. We can reach out to feel less alone.
- Talking about how you are feeling helps. Perhaps ask a friend to check in with you every few days via text, phone or video apps. It’s the gentle support and connection with others that counts.
- Sympathy cards can be used to share remembrance stories. Find a card with lots of blank space inside and write a personal story or memory of the person you’d like to share. It’s healing to write a precious memory down and the bereaved family may appreciate receiving these.
- If there are tamariki/children in your whānau, check-in with them often. Answer their questions honestly. Tamariki may appear sad and happy in the space of minutes. Let them set their own pace.
- It's ok to alternate grieving with other activities. Doing this can help us adjust to loss while managing everyday life.
- Try to limit how much news and social media you consume – when we are experiencing sadness and trauma, regular news can be distressing.
Remember: In grief you can only do the best you can, be kind to yourself.
Send aroha to the whānau pani/bereaved family
Grief is challenging enough without the threat of a global pandemic. But you can be creative in how you offer support during COVID-19.
- Awhi/support and comfort your whānau pani/bereaved family & friends to get through this time of loss together.
- Technology - using video apps can connect you face-to-face virtually. When you connect make sure you listen to the person you’re supporting. Acknowledge their pain and don’t offer advice. Remember silence is ok too. Schedule regular catch ups on the preferred platform and stick to the schedule.
- If you find it hard to know what to say, its ok to say that. You can ask them how they are and let them talk more than you do. It's ok to say the name of the person who died. Or if they don't want to talk about it now, let them know you’re there to listen whenever they’d like to. You can also offer practical support and take over a prepared meal, help with the laundry, babysitting or grocery shopping.
- Reach out, make yourself available not just in the short term but in the weeks and months to come.
Grief counselling is available in person, online and by phone. For more information and to find a counsellor please see:
The Grief Centre (Auckland)
Grief Support Services (Tauranga)
Loss and Grief Centre (Invercargill)
Free 24/7 Phone Helplines
Free call or text 1737 anytime to talk to a trained counsellor.
Lifeline – 0800 543 354 or free text 4357 (HELP)
Youthline – 0800 376 633 or free text 234
Samaritans – 0800 726 666
Please see the Mental Health Foundation website for more helplines