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Samoan death rituals in a New Zealand context

Given that dialogue relating to death and grief for many Samoans still remains in the realm of tapu (sacred) or s? (protected), few attempts have been made by researchers of Samoan heritage to understand whether the cultural contexts for enacting associated rituals might also provide avenues for healing. Psychological scholarship on recovery following death, particularly among men, is largely based on dominant western perspectives that continue to privilege both clinical and ethnocentric perspectives as the norm. This case presentation, which forms part of a larger doctoral research by the author, demonstrates that some Samoan end-of-life rituals open space for greater consideration of recovery from death as a culturally-defined process. In many instances, instead of severing ties with the deceased person as is popular in clinical approaches to grief work, Samoan grief resolution strongly endorse continued connections through its mourning patterns. Their end-of-life enactment helps to transition the deceased from this life to the next, while drawing the living together. Critically, the performance and maintenance of such important tasks create space for heaving emotions to be calmed, where meaning is made, and where the lives of those impacted are slowly restored. Some of these familiar rituals offer therapeutic value, enabling Samoans involved in this study to walk hand-in-hand with their emotional distress, while transitioning them through the grieving process. Such mourning traditions are meaningful and culturally preferred, validating and celebrating Samoan cultural identity.
Journal Article
Type of thesis
Seiuli, B. M. S. (2017). Samoan death rituals in a New Zealand context. Journal of Psychology and Cognition, 2(1), 35–43.
This is an author’s accepted version of an article published in the journal: Journal of Psychology and Cognition.