When the people we love leave our lives, it
can be hard to accept that we won't see them or hear their voices again, or share special occasions with them. Seeing their pictures or carrying mementos of them can be comforting, but for some, it's not enough; they want a more permanent way to keep close to their family or friends. That's why more grieving people are choosing to get remembrance tattoos for loved ones, which allows them to carry their memories wherever they go.
According to a survey from Statista, some 42 percent of
adults ages 18-69 have at least one tattoo, with another 19 percent saying they're considering getting one. Although there are no stats out there on how many people request memorial tattoos, the trend does seem to be growing, claimed the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. Those who do remember a loved one in ink often do it as a way to publicly show their grief, Michigan State professor Theresa Winge told the paper. Winge, who interviewed tattoo owners for her book Body Style, added that a tattoo can be a form of catharsis: “Many expressed guilt for continuing to live after the loss," she explained. "The memorial tattoo keeps their loved ones with them and frees them from that feeling.”
Today, there are so many beautiful designs to choose from when picking a memorial tattoo that it can be hard to select the right one. The important thing is that it reflects both your feelings and the spirit of the person being immortalized. It's also essential to avoid getting any tattoo when you're feeling emotional or impulsive. A survey from Advanced Dermatology revealed that of the people who regret getting one or more of their tats, only
11 percent regretted getting a tattoo memorializing a person or event. But if you're sure you want to go ahead with it, here are just some of the designs out there you could use. 1 Heart Andreas Rentz/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images
The obvious choice, yes, but sometimes the best one.
Lady Gaga chose a small heart tattoo (take a close look at her upper shoulder) to honor her father after he underwent successful heart surgery, reported Billboard. Her father is still alive and well, but that didn't stop her from getting a piece of ink in honor of him. 2 Birth and death dates
Inking the days your loved one entered and left this earth tells the world how long you've been missing them. Some people choose to use Roman numerals instead of numbers, but you can always include traditional dates instead.
Hummingbirds are as beautiful and fragile as life itself. Using them in a tat captures that message, as well as your loved one's spirit.
Zelda Williams chose this symbol for her dad, Robin Williams, according to People, whose life and wit were brilliant and fleeting. 4 Angel or angel wings
Many people are comforted by the belief that their loved one is watching over them in the afterlife. If you're among them, an angel-inspired design — either a full figure or just the wings — is a fine choice.
5 Their favorite flower Chris Graythen/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images
If your grandmother loved roses, or your godmother always kept sunflowers in a vase, getting ink of their favorite blossom is a nice remembrance. Or you could choose a forget-me-not, which brings home the idea, too.
A popular faith-based design, a cross can be as simple as two simple lines or as intricate as a Celtic knot theme.
One of the more heart-wrenching ink choices out there, a replica of a newborn's own footprint can help bring at least a little solace to a deeply grieving parent.
8 A special number
If the person you're honoring had a lucky number or a digit that was significant to them in some way, you could use that in your tattoo design.
Lea Michele has the number 5 inked on her ribcage, revealed E! News, in memory of her former boyfriend and costar Cory Monteith. Monteith's character on Glee was a high-school football star who wore 5 on his jersey. 9 Pet portrait
Some tattoo artists are masters at capturing a pet's likeness from a photo, allowing you to carry a permanent reminder of your fur baby wherever you go.
To remember a mother or grandmother who was the undisputed "queen" of the family, this royal symbol is most appropriate.
13 Dragonfly Dragonflies are a symbol of change, rebirth, and the importance of living in the moment (because they spend a relatively small portion of their life flying). That, plus their iridescent beauty, make them a lovely image for a memorial tattoo. 14 Pet pawprint
Our pets leave indelible marks on our hearts, but you can also get a mark that's much more publicly visible.
15 Military memorial
If your loved one was a proud veteran, honoring them with a military tat, such as an American flag or the symbol of their branch of the service, will tell the world that you're proud of them, too.
Butterflies are associated with resurrection and the soul, and some people believe that
butterflies represent our deceased loved ones, according to Gardens With Wings. A butterfly tat is a nice way to remember a relative or friend, especially one who loved the insect themselves. 18 Hobby tattoo
Whatever pastime your loved one was passionate about — fishing, music, art, quilting — including a symbol of the hobby in your tattoo design (be it a needle and thread or instrument) will show how well you understood them.
19 Moon and stars
These celestial symbols often
represent motherhood, creativity, or magic, so the meaning for you would depend on whom you're memorializing. Billie Lourd had this tattoo put on her ankle after the death of her mom, Star Wars legend Carrie Fisher. 20 Quote
While a picture may say a thousand words, sometimes words captured in picture form can say even more. You could choose a favorite phrase from a children's book ("I love you forever, I like you for always"), a lyric from a song that reminds you of the person, a farewell message, or a wise quote ("Remember me with love and laughter, for that is how I will remember you all").
21 A random object
Maybe you and your loved one had a secret word, a private joke, or a shared memory that makes you smile every time. Go ahead and design a tat that reflects the connection the two of you had. It doesn't matter if no one else understands the meaning; what's important is that
you do — even if it’s a tat of a cat’s face in a flower. 22 The person’s portrait
You miss seeing your mom’s face so much. But instead of carrying around pics on your phone, (or looking at a framed photo on your living room wall), you can have your loved one’s permanently placed on your body. It’s kind of incredible how tattoo artists can totally replicate every fine detail of a person’s image so that it looks like a portrait has been painted on you, rather than a tattoo. And in that way, you can always have them with you, no matter where you go.
23 A tree memorial tattoo
A tree is symbolic of life and a testament to strength. Show how you’ve endured losing someone you’ve loved so much by getting a tree tat. In the trunk of the tree, you can “carve” your loved one’s name and even birth or death dates. Or, you might want to weave their name into some of the leaves of the tree, to show how they’re still very much part of your, you know, family tree.
24 A compass memorial tattoo
Let’s face it: you feel kind of lost without your loved one. Let them help you find your way again with a compass tattoo. Beyond being utterly beautiful, there are so many lines and intricate details within a compass tattoo that allow you to add in your loved one’s name, or special dates. They’ll guide you every step of the way.
25 A personal object of theirs
Your grandma always used a special baking dish whenever she made dessert. Or maybe you remember the special saddle your grandpa used to ride his horse. You can design a tattoo that mimics the mementos that you remember the most about your loved ones as a tattoo.
26 A circle of life
Birth and death dates are certainly symbolic, but if you’re looking for a way to honor your loved one, you can turn your tattoo into a circle of life. For example, you can include vines or flowers that are in a circular shape, and include the important dates in their lives. It’s pretty, symbolic, and shows that love never dies.
27 An outline of your loved one
One of the worst parts of losing someone special to you is never being able to hug them again. With an outline tattoo, you can trace your finger and feel that, even though you’re not holding them, you’re still creating a physical connection to them that can help ease the pain a little.
28 Roman numerals JOEL SAGET/AFP/Getty Images
Sure, you can use traditional numbers in your tattoo, but Roman numerals add an elegance (and a timeless factor) to any tattoo. You can use them to commemorate any important date, such as an engagement, wedding, birth, or death date. And with their clean lines, Roman numerals might be a minimalist tattoo design, but they’re big on emotion.
29 An anchor
To represent all the times that your loved one kept you steady (and sane), an anchor tattoo can be a beautiful tribute. It doesn’t have to look like pirate-esque (not unless you want it to, of course), but it just might help you navigate these rocky waters until you reach land again.
30 A ladybug
In addition to bringing good luck and being absolutely adorable, ladybugs are symbolic for being a sign of a loved one in heaven. So if you’re missing someone super special to you, a ladybug tattoo will show that you still are honoring the relationship you had (and continue to have) with the deceased.
31 A clock memorial tattoo
It might feel like time has stood still since you lost your loved one. And in a way, it has. But what it also does is make you utterly aware of how precious each passing moment is, which is why a clock memorial tattoo is so meaningful.
32 A sunflower memorial tattoo
Sunflowers symbolize love, friendship, and fidelity, which makes them an amazing choice for a memorial tattoo. Since a sunflower is a large flower, it’s up to you how big to make your tat, whether it runs down the length of your arm or leg, or if you opt to have a sweet sunflower sitting on your ankle or wrist.
33 A tombstone memorial tattoo
It might seem a little morbid to have a tattoo of a tombstone on your body, but some people find comfort in being able to see that image symbolized on their skin. More often that not, tattoo artists will make the tombstone totally cool and artistic, so that it takes away from the stark (and sad) reality of it, turning tragedy into art.
34 A rainbow bridge-themed tattoo
If you’ve had a precious pet pass, then you’ve probably heard the “Rainbow Bridge” poem. (If not, be prepared for a good cry.) To honor your beloved BFF, a rainbow bridge-themed tattoo is a popular choice for grieving pet owners.
35 A sunset-themed tattoo
The sun may have set on someone’s life, but that doesn’t mean that you don’t miss them — All. The. Time. A sunset-themed memorial tattoo honors your loved one in a natural, beautiful way and is a good choice for someone who likes a tat with lots of bold, warm colors.
When you miss someone so much that it physically hurts, getting a tattoo that represents some aspect of them can help the healing process. And when you miss them, all you have to do is look at your tattoo and know that they’ll
always be with you. After all, you went through all that pain to prove that they’ll never be forgotten, and that ultimately, love never dies.
This article was originally published on
Jan. 2, 2019