Letters and information from Jehovah's Witnesses sent to Sue Judd following her husband's death. MARTIN DE RUYTER/FAIRFAX NZ
A few days after her husband died, Sue Judd received a handwritten letter.
It was delivered among other letters of sympathy and sadness from friends and family. But this letter, the one on lined paper from a woman named Linda, was different.
It was addressed to "the Judd family" and contained a series of "beautiful promises from our creator" along with pamphlets promoting Jehovah's Witnesses, a Christian denomination known for door-to-door ministry.
Judd said she was horrified to receive the unsolicited letter from a religious group so soon after her husband's death. "They're sending it to me unsolicited at a time when I'm at my utterly most vulnerable," she said. "They're preying on me and my grief."
Her husband Neville Judd, known as Hugo, died in his sleep on May 2. He was 77. A death notice was published in the Nelson Mail on May 3 and 4.
"We put the death notice in the newspaper and the address for home was on it and the first letter arrived about two or three days afterwards."
The letter writer says that they had found "comfort and strength to carry on" in the messages of the Bible and had a desire to share them with Judd.
They included references to bible verses that talk about a time when death and sickness will be no more. They say the Bible promises there will be a great resurrection and everyone will live in a paradise on earth with their loved ones enjoying "life as it should be".
Judd said the letters were targeted attempts to convert, rather than console her.
"It's so disingenuous. If they really cared you'd think they'd arrive on the doorstep with some baking or something as anyone else does.
"It's so horrible when you're in such a terrible time to receive such nonsense."
A second letter arrived about three weeks later from a 90-year-old Motueka woman. It also included Jehovah's Witness paraphernalia.
She said the letters were "totally and utterly inappropriate" and had impacted on her grieving process.
"It affected me in a bad way. I wouldn't push my views onto anybody, especially somebody I don't know."
Judd said she wasn't a religious person and thought the claims made in the brochures were nonsense.
She said she wanted to know how many other people were being targeted via death notices and called on the church to stop preying on grieving families.
Last year, former Jehovah's Witness elders Vince and Michele Tylor said members purposefully targeted the recently bereaved as "ripe fruit".
They said the church supported writing letters from obituaries and there were also reports of members approaching people in cemeteries.
Jehovah's Witnesses senior elder Jason Piscopo, from Sydney, previously said the faith did not dictate to its members how they spread the their beliefs.
He said it would be "inaccurate" to claim the faith targeted any one group within society.
The Jehovah's Witnesses national office, based in Sydney, has been approached several times for comment.
Jehovah's Witnesses churches in Nelson and Motueka could not be reached for comment.