Our life is full of experiences that create memories that are always worth talking about. When someone close to us passes and we’re left with sadness and grief, it’s hard to talk about. Yet we can all agree that memorial tattoo are more than just a story and become part of our experience that helps everyone understand just how much some very special people meant to us.
Why do people get memorial tattoos?
Getting ink is a lifestyle that doesn’t need much explanation, so I don’t need to tell you why every tattoo has just as much meaning as the next. Out of all my friends who have shared their personal stories, the ones that brought up the best memories were all dedicated memorial tattoos. And I think the reason was very simple since these represent a part of the celebrated person and are remembered every day.
No matter how tragic their story happened to be, I always felt humbled and proud to hear about someone who made that much impact to become a piece of living art. Even more amazing than that, most of the people I’ve known- always found a spot that was close to their heart rather than adding it to a sleeve or grouping it with other tattoos. These images were always carefully chosen and always found the right artist to do the work.
I think, for the most part, we all want to keep a part of that person or (even pets), close to our lives and it helps to heal the grief and pain that goes with missing them so much. Another thing I’ve noticed over the years is that a lot of people who don’t even like tattoos find that a memorial tattoo was the best choice to remember that memory in a way that was respectful and dignified.
But hey, it’s not about adding to a collection of things you like or trying to be trendy. People have been adding engraved etchings of photos of loved ones onto gravestones for years now.
Which tattoos symbolize lost loved ones?
How do you put all those feelings into words, or emotions onto paper? I guess it’s hard enough to write about missing someone close if you had to speak at a funeral or make some eulogy about what a dear loved one means to you. So translating those words into a single image can be hard.
I’ve never gotten over losing some pets and I know that it’s different for everyone, but when it comes to people that really changed your life, that’s a lot to think about. It can be an image that both of you really liked or something they would always say that made your day. It can be part of an old photo that becomes a memorial that was always your favorite that’s sometimes the best symbolism.
If anything, take all of the best memories and all of the positive energy and start making some sketches or notes of what you want to create. A tattoo memorial is your story too, so you have the right to share what message you want to preserve. It doesn’t have to be for anyone else to see, but if you do it should be a tattoo that doesn’t need explanation. What you share with others from that point may also be therapeutic if it helps to open up.
Your tattoo doesn’t need to be spectacular or become a billboard that draws attention either. I had a close friend who had a very small tattoo of a star constellation showing on the ends of branches from an oak tree. There was only the name Tommy written in kid-like letters underneath. When I asked, he told me that he and his younger brother used to have a tree house in that oak tree when they were both 6 and 7, where they would both look at stars at night.
That constellation was their favorite since it was Ursa Minor, which just so happens to be where the North Star is. I was scared to ask about the tree, but he told me his little brother got very sick from pneumonia and died in the hospital. They always talked about Peter Pan and wanted to visit the Lost Boys, and knew the North Star could lead them there. His brother’s last words were I’ll meet you at the North Star’.
He took a copy of his brother’s name on an old coloring book with him when he got the tattoo on what would have been his brother’s 18th birthday. The day you’re not a kid anymore… So- when it comes to what you can symbolize, there’s plenty of room for making a meaningful statement too when it comes to memorial tattoo ideas.
One of the newest practices that are sincere and (to be honest) a lot easier than carrying the ashes of a loved one around with you is cremation tattoos. I’ve seen necklace lockets and rings that have all had ashes inside them, but that just isn’t good for some people. Learn more about cremation jewelry in this post.
Ancient societies often saw the ashes of loved ones as sacred material. The ashes of tribal leaders in Mayan times have used these ashes to make rubber balls used for ceremonial games. The Mayans believed the leaders of the underworld were connected to the living world. The practice is not new at all and is indeed a biblical practice. It comes from the interpretation of Leviticus 19:28.
The verse itself prohibited using the ashes of loved ones for Jews and Christians to be used for cosmetic tattoos, but (in fact), the practice of mourning was an exception by creating an ink that was made from a loved one’s ashes and smearing this into pierced skin. This can also be interpreted as a Jewish ceremonial law that applies to those who use tattoo ink of relatives who have died. It did not specifically apply to Christians per se but was a practice, nonetheless.
When it comes to any cremation tattoos, the design can be as simple as a quote or passage. It’s not limited to pictures or symbols provided you have enough ash to use for mixing into tattoo ink. As this is a ceremonial or ritual-like tattoo it has different meanings for those who hold these tattoos dear to each who wants to bear the ashes of those who are very close. And though the practice seems rather recent, the mourning and grief concept is all but forgotten.
Today, a cremation tattoo is viewed as a deep connection to that person who you take with you in a deep literal sense. I also think that cremation tattoos serve to cope with losing someone close. What you feel about it should also hold the highest dedication of memorial tattoo ideas for being part of their life, that’s now a part of yours.
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