The Covid-19 Delta outbreak has once again changed the grieving landscape for bereaved families, Rotorua and eastern Bay of Plenty funeral directors say.
At alert level 3, the number of people who can attend a funeral, tangihanga or burial is limited to 10, including members of the clergy or staff.
Up to 10 people from the same household can go to view the deceased and two whānau from the same bubble can dress their loved one in the presence of the funeral director.
Funeral Directors Association of NZ board member Richard Fullard said the association had lobbied the Government to relax some of the restrictions around funerals and tangi.
Fullard, who is also managing director of Rotorua-based Osbornes Funeral Directors, said it was a huge relief for families who were now able to at least see their loved ones at peace.
"We have always believed that having a meaningful funeral experience is vital as it aids with a bereaved family's healthy grief journey."
Fullard said the Delta outbreak had once again changed the landscape for bereaved families and for funeral directors who had to have this sad conversation with them.
Erin McDonald, the manager at Mount View Funeral Services in Rotorua, said the feelings and emotions felt by bereaved families and also by funeral directors under alert level 4 and 3 restrictions had definitely changed.
"Not being able to touch, to embrace and to hug to give comfort to family members is very difficult as this is who we are and what we do at Mount View Funerals."
McDonald said most people had an understanding of why the restrictions were in place and were so grateful a service could take place, albeit a small one.
"It doesn't mean these families are more accepting or grieving any less, but some just want to progress to holding a service to help with the grieving process," she said.
Todd Gower, co-owner of Rotorua's Collingwood Funeral Home, said they had a couple of funerals during the level 4 lockdown.
Gower said the most difficult thing was the grieving process had changed again for everyone involved.
"Since the very first lockdown, we have found most people seem to better understand why these restrictions are in place and have adjusted their expectations," he said.
Gower said some families had chosen to defer a memorial service and others had decided not to have one at all.
"I think it is really important to have some sort of memorial service to farewell your loved one, even if it is a small one at home.
"Sometimes people may not think it's important at the time but then later may regret not doing so, and some families have recently approached us to hold one at a later date.
"It is also difficult for funeral directors needing to have that conversation with families, but it is the sad reality of one of the significant impacts of the Covid-19 Delta outbreak.
"Funerals are for the living and the chance to farewell your loved one definitely helps with the grieving and healing process," he said.
Whakatāne-based Willetts Funeral Service owner Steve Butler said most people were being "very understanding" about restrictions.
"But it is still very difficult for families to have to choose who can be in their bubble of 10 mourners to physically say goodbye to their loved one.
"Not being able to touch the deceased is also very hard. But for those whānau who can now visit with their loved one to view them it is very comforting," he said.
"We are working closely with the families and most have already limited their numbers, but it is still very difficult and upsetting."