A Whanganui man living overseas says it was "absolutely devastating" to have to watch his mother's funeral service via livestream because of the Covid-19 lockdown.
And the president of the Funeral Director's Association of New Zealand, Gary Taylor, says the impact of the lockdown on funerals is making what is already an emotionally charged situation even harder.
Whanganui's Peter Aki has been teaching English and rugby in Abu Dhabi in the UAE for the past 13 years, and recently got the news that his mother, Vaosa Telesia Aki, had died at the age of 89.
Instead of flying back home immediately, the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic meant he was forced to watch the funeral via livestream - something he described as "absolutely devastating".
Aki said his mother's health had been failing "pretty badly" and she had been on medication for quite a while.
"Each night she was in hospital there was a family member with her, and she passed at 11.45 pm on March 21," he said.
Upon hearing of his mother's passing, Aki immediately tried to find a way to get back home to Whanganui to join father Vaifale and his eight other siblings.
"We found out the news and around 24 hours later the airport here in Abu Dhabi shut down, plus a curfew had been imposed.
"My older brother in Australia had a tiny chance to get home, but even if he got back into Wellington he would have been in quarantine for two weeks upon arrival."
Aki and his brother watched the funeral service via livestream, with the ceremony itself severely restricted due to Covid-19.
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"Only six cars were permitted to accompany Mum up to Aramoho to the burial ceremony, and only three people were allowed in each car," Aki said.
"All the grandkids had to stay at home, and it was heartbreaking to watch it online.
"The family had to sit in the car during the whole thing.
"Even my father wasn't allowed to get out and say goodbye to his wife of 63 years.
"Words can't describe the sadness I felt watching it via the video."
Taylor said he "really feels for all families that have to say goodbye to a loved one" during the Covid-19 lockdown.
"A funeral gathering is a really important part of farewelling someone, and that has been taken away at the moment," he said.
"Our role as funeral directors is to try and fill that void as best we can.
"Things like live streams offer at least a small connection between loved ones."
Taylor said the only people permitted to visit a funeral home were those who had been in the same isolation bubble as the deceased.
If a number of people were sharing the home, they would be broken up into smaller groups before attending a funeral.
Burials and cremations were only allowed to be attended by those in the isolation bubble.
"This is a really hard time, and we're doing all we can to follow the government's rules, as well as trying to accommodate the needs of those families who have suffered a bereavement," Taylor said.
Meanwhile, Aki said he "fully understood" the threat of Covid-19, and wouldn't have wanted any of his family in Whanganui to be "put in harm's way".
"Our (he and his brother) promise to our Dad was to get home to him as soon as we can," Aki added.
Aki taught at Whanganui City College for 12 years, before making the decision to move to Abu Dhabi to teach English. Despite living in a different country, he maintained regular contact with his parents back home in Gonville.
"Mum's birthday was on March 4, and I sent her a video message," Aki said.
"She was laughing and crying at the video, thinking I was actually talking to her.
"It was really funny, but emotional at the same time because that was the last time I heard my mother's voice."
Aki said his mother "adored" her grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and always had treats for them when they visited.
"Our Mum loved all her kids so much, but as soon as her grandchildren came along, her attention turned to them."
"There was always a secret stash of lollies and money for them."
"When us parents asked for something she'd always say 'no lollies for you, you're too fat.
"When we were young Mum would always make pancakes for Dad and the kids, and the smell of them cooking in the frying pan is something that will never leave me."