Death is a part of life. Most of us have gone through the process of grieving for a loved one who has passed on. It can be one of the most difficult processes you can go through – the feeling of loss, anger, missing the person, and then acceptance.
For some people, one of the stages of accepting the loss of a loved one and celebrating their impact on their life is getting a memorial tattoo.
What Is A Memorial Tattoo?
Also known as a remembrance tattoo, this tattoo theme is meant to honor someone who has died.
“Memorial tattoos are done as a form of remembrance and commemoration of a loved one or someone close who has died,”Saved Tattoo
A memorial tattoo can be a way to continue your relationship with the person who has passed, as you can look at the design and be reminded of the advice they’ve given you, the lessons you’ve learned in their presence, and the love that continues.
There’s even a study that explains that people who get a memorial tattoo ensure that they establish an ongoing and everlasting connection and communication with the deceased person.
“…memorial tattoos can serve vital functions in the grief process, including as modes of expression and communication, and preserving a continued attachment to the deceased,”Psychology Today
How To Choose The Right Memorial Tattoo
Like any tattoo theme, there are many styles, sizes, and placements to choose from.
When deciding on a memorial tattoo, it’s important to choose a design that not only relates to the person you’re honoring and your relationship with them, but also the design needs to be aesthetically pleasing to you and something that you won’t regret later on.
Byrdie points out,
“Making a permanent decision when your emotions are particularly high is rarely a good idea, and the last thing you want is something that reminds you of them in the moment, but you don’t associate with their legacy.”
So, while you may feel the need to rush to a tattoo studio to memorialize your loved one, take a step back and give yourself space to choose something that really makes sense to you and the legacy of the person who has passed.
Here are some questions to brainstorm on to narrow down the tattoo options to the designs that would be the most meaningful:
- What interests or hobbies pop in your mind when you think of this person?
- What activities did you enjoy doing together?
- What was really special to this person?
When you combine imagery that represents your loved one as an individual, along with special moments you spent together, this can help create a design that is as unique as your loved one and the relationship you shared.
Memorial Tattoo Ideas
Simple Memorial Tattoos
If you want a minimalist memorial tattoo, you could opt for a small, simple birth date or death date inking. A pro with this tattoo choice is that you can easily place it on a small area and are still able to cover it if need be.
This can also be ideal for a wrist, hand or finger tattoo – then, you’re able to see your ink and be reminded of your loved one every time you look down.
To add a little bit more to your minimal memorial tattoo, you could include a flower or a religious element, such as a cross or wings.
Flower Memorial Tattoo
Did your loved one who passed have a favorite flower? If you see daisies, do you automatically think of this person, for example?
A flower tattoo could then be the perfect way to remember your loved one.
One option is a lily tattoo.
“Lily is among the most common flower tattoo design[s]. This is because lilies are used in funerals and lily flower tattoos are considered as memorial tattoos,”Tattoos Boy Girl
Lilies also represent womanhood and femininity, so can be the apt choice for a female who has passed on.
Religious Memorial Tattoo
If you or your loved one is or was a religious person, you could include a religious element in your memorial tattoo design. This could be an overt religious symbol such as a rosary or cross, or more spiritual element such as angel wings.
“Angel wings are also placed on various parts of the body, notably the wrists or forearms to serve as a reminder. This can be a reminder for oneself or a reminder of a loved one who has passed on. Wings often accompany R.I.P. tattoos to show that the deceased has become an angel in heaven,”Tattoo SEO
Pet Memorial Tattoo
Of course, memorial tattoos aren’t exclusively for people. Pet memorial tattoos can be an amazing way to commemorate and remember your furry best friend.
This can be in the form of a portrait, an outline of their ears, or a paw print.
“The key to doing this successfully is finding a photograph of clear quality that accurately represents your pet, and then finding a tattoo artist who has experience with this type of art,”Tat Ring
If you’d prefer something not so realistic and full of small details, you could simplify the image of your pet and ask for a cartoon sketch as a tattoo.
Do you have a piece of paper with a sample of your deceased loved one’s handwriting? You could get this transferred into a tattoo for a personal, unique memorial design. You don’t have to have the exact word or phrase you want tattooed in the handwriting of your loved one.
Inked Mag explains,
“…you can also bring in a piece of paper in their handwriting, which an artist can piece together to form the tattoo. Of course, every artist has their own approach and their preferred process may vary.”
Find a tattooist who specializes in tiny detailed tattoos.
Ink And Ashes Memorial Tattoo
Did you know that you could incorporate some of your loved one’s ashes into the tattoo ink? Byrdie advises that it’s essential that you go to a tattoo artist who is skilled in this type of memorial tattoo to reduce the chance of infection,
“Cremation tattoos have not been extensively studied for safety, and the FDA does not typically regulate tattoo ink, so you should also speak with a healthcare professional to discuss any safety concerns before getting your tattoo.”
Psyche puts forth that memorial tattoos can bring,
“…a sense of permanence in response to painfully clear impermanence – a reaffirmation of life amid the stark reality of death.”
A tattoo can act as a step in the process of grief and loss, and a way to remember the good times with a loved one who is no longer with you physically.
Take your time to choose a design with special significance to you and your loved one, and one you can look down upon and smile with gratitude for the time you got to spend with them.