The heartbreaking reality of lockdown funerals has been laid bare with video showing the moment a grieving daughter has to watch as the hearse carrying her mother drives into a cemetery without her.
As the country enters into its first day split between alert levels, New Zealanders still face harsh restrictions on funerals – with those under level 4 forced to stay away entirely.
Video released by Tipene Funerals shows just what these restrictions mean, offering a sobering view of life and death in lockdown.
Video shot from a hearse driving into Auckland’s Manukau Memorial Gardens shows how the car following it is forced to stop as the cemetery’s gates begin to close.
A woman gets out and calls after the hearse: “I’m sorry mama.”
Security guards, heads hung low in respect, close the gates as the grieving daughter’s cries follow her mother.
“We love you mama, ofa atu mama, I’m sorry I can’t be there with you mama.”
The daughter and other family break down, the sounds of their grief fading as the hearse drives away.
A member of the Tipene Funerals teams can be seen respectfully waving back at the family, extending a hand as far as our laws allow.
“This is what we experience every day during lockdown,” Tipene Funerals wrote online.
“As the gates close, we feel their pōuri [sadness] and mamae [pain] and we tangi [cry] for them as we continue to bury their loved one on their behalf.
“We continue to face these challenging moments,” Tipene Funerals continued, adding they are “grateful to the Havealeta family for entrusting us to farewell their ‘Nena’ with honour and dignity on their behalf.”
“This is so cruel and wrong,” a commenter noted beneath the video.
“Yet it’s ok to watch you parliamentarians on tv walking close together.”
Another said: “My heart aches for all who will and have gone through this painful process.”
“There has to a better way,” said another, as scores of commenters offered their love and support to the grieving family.
Under level 4, which is the setting currently governing Auckland and Northland, all funeral and memorial services are prohibited, including private family gatherings.
Those under alert level 3 still face restrictions, with all funerals and tangihanga limited to 10 people.
One recent change to the rules has been made recently, with funeral directors saying they are “delighted” by the Govt’s change of heart.
“Last week we sent a proposal to Dr Bloomfield and the Prime Minister seeking a change to allow viewings to farewell a loved one under alert level 4 and when we checked the Ministry of Health website this morning we were delighted to see they have accepted it,” said Gary Taylor, president of the Funeral Directors Association.
From today, viewings by family are allowed at a registered funeral home during alert level 4, but only if they are in the same bubble.
The body is still not permitted to leave the funeral home for viewing purposes at any time.
“There are other conditions for funeral directors,” said David Moger, chief executive of the Funeral Directors Association “and they are all in line with our proposal except for one. There is a requirement that the funeral director supervising the viewing must be fully vaccinated. This is problematic because when we asked for early access to the vaccination programme for funeral directors as an essential service this year, we were denied.”
The ministry cited limited community transmission as the reason, said the association, and told them funeral directors are not deemed to be an essential health service.
“This means that the number of funeral directors available that are now fully vaccinated is limited,” Moger said. “We are trying to assess what impact that delay will have had on today’s announcement.”
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This content was originally published here.