This resource was developed by people with lived experience of grief and loss. Everyone's loss is unique, we hope this resource is helpful for you. We’d also like to acknowledge cultural differences in grieving. Please feel free to adapt the information in this resource for your own situation.

The death of a loved one is one of life’s most difficult experiences. If you’re here because you’ve lost someone you care about, we’d like to acknowledge your loss and the emotions you may be experiencing. 

When we lose a loved one, it may feel like our world has been turned upside down. Nothing is the same anymore. Experiencing a loss during Covid-19 brings additional challenges. Along with grieving, you may also be concerned about keeping mourners and support people safe from contracting Covid-19 or spreading it.

  • 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.
  • You could be dealing with your own emotions of not being able to be with your bereaved whānau or friends for comfort and support,particularly if they are overseas.   
  • 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. 

Requirements around physical distancing mean the traditions we associate with public funerals and tangihanga have been altered.

Funerals and tangihanga can go ahead under Alert Level 2 but are restricted to no more than 100 people. The Ministry of Health says when holding a gathering, play it safe — maintain hygiene standards and meet existing record-keeping requirements for contact tracing.

f you need to, you may choose to delay some of the ways you would like to farewell the person who has died until the COVID-19 pandemic is over.  

Yet we cannot delay grief. Having a service or activities and rituals to engage in within the first few days or weeks of a death, can help with adapting to loss.

For suggestions on farewelling your loved one, we recommend the resource: COVID-19, when no funerals, tangi or farewell gatherings can be held. You can find this on the Funeral Directors Association website

Grief at this time can feel isolating. You may feel disconnected from the rest of the world. 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.

As restrictions on services/memorials ease, remember to use phone and social media platforms to connect and keep in touch with friends and whānau who may be far away, to share memories, photos and stories of the person who has died. Even if we cannot be together in person, we can reach out to feel less alone. 

You could even organise a service for whānau, live on social media or by phone.

  • 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.

Physical distancing means this may be a challenging time to support someone who is grieving. You may need to be creative in how you offer support during COVID-19.

  • 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.
  • Reach out, make yourself available not just in the short term but in the weeks and months to come. 
  • Awhi/support and comfort your whānau pani/bereaved family & friends to get through this time of loss together. Connect with aroha from afar. 

Telehealth and virtual appointments are still the preferred option for health providers in level 2. GPs may offer face to face appointments or remote services by phone, online or video consult. If your GP is not available, find one that is. If you do not find your GP helpful at this time, it’s ok to contact another GP.

Grief counselling is available online and by phone. For more information and to find a counsellor please see:

The New Zealand Association of Counsellors


New Zealand Psychological Society 

New Zealand College of Clinical Psychologists 

Skylight Trust

The Grief Centre (Auckland)

Grief Support Services (Tauranga)

Loss and Grief Centre (Invercargill)

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