When community chaplain Chrissie Staples was out walking one day a woman stopped her to say she had just lost her 12-year-old granddaughter to suicide.
This was the first of several stories she was about to hear from people who suffered loss during the Covid-19 pandemic and had been unable to grieve in the usual ways.
When Indian friends were unable to return home to support family when their brother died, they were grief stricken. Another friend could not attend the funeral of a family member due to lockdown.
Many have missed out on saying goodbyes to loved ones in hospices, rest homes and hospitals as well as overseas, Staples says.
"The past two and a half years have affected so many people who haven't been able to see parents or other close relatives, or to get together with family to grieve according to their family or cultural customs.
"As I discussed this with a group of friends, we decided to hold a memorial gathering to commemorate the lives of those we have lost."
Come Together to Remember will be held in The Square on Saturday at 1pm, followed by afternoon tea.
A Filipino choir will perform at the memorial event and people will be encouraged to share their stories of loss and what those who died meant to them.
Fellow organisers Wendy and Phil Brock know what it's like to lose a child overseas. They lost their 23-year-old son in Taiwan in 2016 due to an aneurysm.
"We just needed to know that his life counted, and we shared our grief not for people to feel sorry for us, but as an excuse to talk about our son," they say.
"We want people in Manawatū to be able to express their loss."
Staples is a member of Gateways Christian Fellowship and does chaplaincy work in the Palmerston North community through Gateways and the Just Life team. She trained through Auckland-based Alphacrucis College.
Staples has seen when people are not able to attend funerals for their loved ones to say goodbye they find it hard to work through their grief.
Staples advises people not to keep their grief to themselves but instead to share it to start the healing process.
One of the most difficult things in life is when a loved one dies by suicide. People tend to blame themselves for not seeing it coming, for not supporting the person enough.
Staples is keen to rekindle Palmerston North's sense of community. She recalls when she was raising her three children there was a great sense of community with playgroups in every area where there were young children and kids went to neighbours' homes. People weren't so insular then.
Loneliness is another huge problem in the city and she is considering ways to address this. For some people the fear of Covid has resulted in them severing their usual connections.
What: Come Together to Remember
When: Saturday, July 2, 1pm
Where: Courtyard of the Daughter of Peace, The Square