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Same day burial practices revisited

A Manono Island family, who buried a family member a couple of hours after she passed on, says Samoans can revert to same-day burials like in the ancient days without worrying about incurring costs.

The late Fotuoauala Tipasa Fiti Mase, who died Monday morning from an illness, was buried around 5pm on the same day.

A niece of the deceased, Naiupunafale Telefoni Sio, told the Samoa Observer in an interview that same-day burials were initially part of Samoan funeral customs which can be revived and applied in this day and age.

“Others might perceive this as disrespectful towards our relatives who have passed away, but this is the original Samoan culture, and there’s a lot that comes under this or what we did in a very sensible way,” she said.

“And of course the memories we shared with our loved ones will remain cherished and remembered.

“Too often that our people care so much about how much they spend if there is enough, but our late family members wouldn’t want us to suffer after the funeral, trying to pay our loans and so forth.

“Also now that the world is facing financial downturn because of the Covid-19 with job losses and so forth, isn’t it a great idea to bring our country back to how it worked back in the olden days.”

Tele’a Telefoni Sio, who is a matai [chief] on Manono and is Naiupunafale’s husband, said it is believed in the early days that good fortune will follow for the family if the funeral was done that way.

“I believe there is no harm to our culture. After all, it’s the original Samoan culture and this is how it was done back in the days,” he added.

“In terms of respect for the deceased, God sees our hearts and souls go out to our loved one who passed on.”

Following the funeral of the deceased on Monday, the family had spent close to $3,000 for catering and food as well as other miscellaneous expenses such as envelopes for church ministers. 

Naiupunafale said families in Samoa could have easily spent over $20,000 for a funeral like that, as there would be choirs singing and a family service held for the grieving family prior to the burial.

However, on Monday the whole process only lasted a few hours when the church minister was informed to prepare for a brief service prior to the burial. 

“The most important parts of the funeral for me I guess is the pastor’s prayers and the food and of course we also have to give a few to the participants especially the highly respected like church ministers and so forth,” she added.

The grieving family was also acknowledged that their overseas relatives could not attend the funeral if it was postponed, due to the restrictions at the border brought on by the COVID-19 global pandemic.

Nevertheless, the relatives of the deceased living abroad were kept updated through social media. No death certificates were also processed as the deceased was not taken to a morgue.

According to Tele’a, as long as families had a pig and a cow or poultry farms, nothing else was needed to hold a funeral. 

He added that this is why families should have their own farms like Samoan families back in the days, in order to cater for times such as death.

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