© New Zealand Broadcasting School 2022

Pictures speaking louder than words

Violet French
headstone flowers
Flowers laid by loved ones  Provided

Death during lockdown has meant that some families have been offered photographs of their loved ones in their resting state.

Rowena O'Neil's grandfather Gerald was ailing in a rest home when the Delta outbreak plunged the nation into a level four lockdown. Just two days later, he passed away. 

O'Neil has referred to the situation her family find themselves in as "sad and surreal". She says "dying isn't a simple thing", adding the family is dealing with a 'tonne' of paperwork from lawyers and the funeral home. 

While O'Neil says her and her mother felt a sense of relief, not having to organise a funeral, they were confronted by another reality. After his passing, they were unable to view Gerald's body. Instead, photographs of him "in his coffin,(and) being wheeled into the hearse", were offered. O'Neil and her mother refused.  

Despite the unusual aspects of what's already a deeply emotional O'Neil says she and her family are coping, but eagerly await level three to be able to mourn together. But for now, "nothing happens".

"You don't have the usual movements of coming together with family and talking with people experiencing the same grief", she says.  

O'Neil says while it's been difficult, she's gained a "new perspective of others who've gone through loss in lockdown. We sacrifice a lot to keep everyone safe."