Memorial tattoos can be an impactful way to honour a loved one. Whether they loved tattoos themselves, had an iconic hobby or personality trait, or you simply want to have a constant reminder of them on hand (or foot, or back, or arm) at all times, there’s a fitting tattoo for every circumstance.
For some, memorial tattoos can be a helpful way to combat the physical and emotional pain endured during grief. The process of being tattooed can therefore be quite cathartic. In this guide, we’ll dive into the significance behind different themes, helping you decide on a tattoo that best reflects you, your loved one, and your relationship with them.
Where should I place my memorial tattoo?
Well, it’s really up to you! Many choose to place their memorial tattoo in a visible spot so they’ll be constantly reminded of their loved one. Others choose to place their tattoo in a slightly less visible spot – and this can signify a more personal or intimate relationship with the deceased.
How do I choose the perfect memorial tattoo?
When deciding on a memorial tattoo, it’s important to opt for something that feels meaningful to you and that you know you won’t mind having (kinda) permanently etched onto your body. You might even consider a cremation tattoo, where your loved one's ashes are incorporated into the ink, making the tattoo extra meaningful.
We’d recommend considering your loved one’s habits, hobbies, favourite foods and drinks, any icons that remind you of them and their personality, and then creating a list of everything you think of. Then, rule out the themes you likely won’t opt for in tattoo form, and find something you do love.
While your friends and family might have a range of opinions on what type of tattoo you should choose to remember your loved one, it’s important to follow your instinct and what feels right to you. There’s nothing worse than tattoo regret!
10 popular memorial tattoo ideas
Not sure where to start when it comes to choosing the perfect memorial tattoo? Here’s a list of 10 popular memorial tattoos – and the significance behind them – to make the decision-making and brainstorming process a little easier.
1. Your loved one’s personal details
Think birthdays, the date they passed, or anniversaries. This can be a beautiful way to remember your loved one (and it’ll obviously also ensure you’ll never forget important dates!).
2. Their favourite food, drinks, games or hobbies
Were they obsessed with McDonald’s fries? Couldn’t start their day without a shot of espresso? Maybe they loved music or books, hiking or swimming? These are all great tattoo options, and they’re the perfect way to remember a loved one’s personality traits and hobbies; the characteristics that made them them.
3. Tattoos of bees
Bees represent hard work and resilience, so if your loved one was a hard worker who dedicated their life to their business or job, a bee could be the perfect way to remember them.
4. An infinity symbol tattoo
This one’s a classic, and a super common memorial tattoo. Due to its continuous figure-8 loop, an infinity symbol can be chosen to represent love that’ll last for eternity.
5. Tattoos of butterflies
Butterfly tattoos can have many significant meanings; renewal, freedom, beauty in the everyday (despite your grief), and a reminder of happy times shared with your loved one. They’re a beautiful (and often very pretty!) way to remember a loved one via a tattoo.
6. An iconic sentence, saying, word or slogan
Was your loved one known for saying a specific toast every time you headed to the bar on a Sunday arvo? Did they use certain words… all the time? Maybe they frequently quoted certain poets or public figures? Words can be a beautiful way to remember a loved one – and they often look pretty nice on the skin, too!
If you met your loved one or (share special memories with them) in a significant location – like in another country, on a beach, or maybe you grew up on the same street in the same suburb – you can choose to have those coordinates (or the coordinates of a location that’s significant to you both) tattooed.
This is probably one of the more unique and personal memorial tattoos we’d recommend – and you’ll likely be the only person who knows what the coordinates represent… unless you tell other people, of course.
8. Tattoos of feathers
Similar to butterfly tattoos, feather tattoos can represent freedom, flight, or a spiritual connection to your deceased loved one. Feathers are often seen as a sign from a departed loved one, or perhaps they collected feathers as a hobby. Either or, really.
9. Flowers, bouquets or floral arrangements
A great way to remember the beauty in the everyday, flowers can be a lovely reminder of your loved one. Throughout history, people have used flowers to represent love, care and affection.
Flowers also tend to bloom after rain (or winter, when it’s been cold, rainy, and you’ve likely been locked up indoors for a while), so they can be the perfect reminder that good times are still to come, even though they’re no longer physically with you.
10. Angels or angel wings
This is a commonly-used tattoo that people might opt for after experiencing a miscarriage. Angel wings represent heaven, the afterlife and purity, and they can be a constant reminder that a lost loved one is at peace and their soul has moved on into the afterlife.
Some choose an angel-inspired tattoo after the loss of a loved one, even if a miscarriage wasn’t experienced, because they love the beauty and significance behind this theme.
There are so many wonderful memorial tattoos you can choose from when honouring a loved one. Remember, it’s important to pick something that feels relevant and meaningful to you (and that truly represents your loved one, in your own personal opinion). That way, every time you look at your memorial tattoo, you’ll be reminded of happy times with the deceased. They might no longer be with you physically, but their presence and impact will always be etched in your mind (and, well, on your skin).