Friday, September 28, 2012



It doesn't matter where you go. It is not easy. Everyone deals with it differently. We mourn differently. We celebrate life differently.

This week I attended two funerals in Fatumu. They are called "putu" here.

For four days leading up to the funeral anyone who is related, knew or attended church with the deceased takes turns praying together. They sing songs, talk about memories and cycle through the dead's home so that there is not a moment without support. This gives time for any family member who is overseas to fly home for the funeral. After the prayer circles end, the family of the dead person gives bread and soda to anyone who came to pray. I'm not talking about 1 slice of bread and a soda can, either. I'm talking about trays of rolls given to each person and as many sodas as they can put down.

On the day of the funeral, everyone goes to the church to celebrate the life of the deceased. The ceremony is usually 2-3 hours long and ends with a huge feast. This feast is put together by the community members. They each bring their favorite dish to pass and a pig is usually roasted in the dead's honor. Then everyone relocates to the cemetery. Fatumu's cemetery is located on the ocean (beach). Those who die in Fatumu are laid to rest in shallow graves that overlook the Pacific Ocean. Once they are buried, the gravesite is decorated with artificial flowers, beer bottles and giant posters. It is very rare to see an actual stone grave marker here.

The following day everyone who attended the funeral comes back together for another day of prayer. At the conclusion of this day, the family of the dead thanks everyone for attending.

They roast another pig and cut it up.

Today I was thanked for attending the funeral of one of the members of the village. And by thanked I mean that I was handed 6 bags of raw meat.

6 bags of raw meat.

This is how families in Tonga thank each other for support during difficult times. I suppose this isn't that different from America. Granted, we don't pass out raw animal, but we have been know to make a good casserole every now and again.

Anyway, I now have enough raw pig, cow, and loads of hot dogs to feed most of Fatumu sitting in the freezer down the road (since my family doesn't have one or a fridge in the house).

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