Our Journal

Tattoos in memory of a loved one – ideas and symbolism

Memorial tattoos, also known as remembrance tattoos, can be a special and healing way to acknowledge a very close person after they die.

Here at Tomorrow Funerals, we believe in finding very personal ways to honour a much loved person. A symbolic tattoo, in memory, could be a meaningful choice. The tattoo serves as a permanent reminder of how significant the relationship was, and how much they were loved. Some people feel that the physical pain experienced in the process of having a memorial tattoo represents the emotional grief they are going through. With this in mind, people claim that having a tattoo is a cathartic experience.

The concept of memorial tattoos is centuries old, like the tradition of tattooing itself.

Some people choose to have their memorial tattoo placed in a visible spot to serve as a constant reminder of their loved one, to both themselves others. This decision can lead to questions about the memorial tattoo, allowing the sharing of stories. Others might decide to have a tattoo on a part of the body that is generally more hidden from view. This might signify the intimate relationship they shared with that person.

How do I choose a memorial tattoo?

When it comes to memorial tattoos it’s important to think about what symbols will feel right for you. A good tattoo artist will help you come up with a design and it’s important to make sure you are 100% happy with it, before committing to this permanent process. In fact, it’s probably a good idea to sit with the design for some weeks or months, before going ahead.

Tattoo symbols represent different things to different people, but ultimately you should choose a motif that represents your person and will have meaning in years to come.

Ten ideas for remembrance tattoos

We have done some research on the symbolism behind some traditional tattoos that work well as a memorial tattoo. Here are some ideas to get you started:

1. Your loved one’s details:

You could create a design using their name, their birth & death dates or even a photograph, as a very literal reminder of the person you wish to honour. Use of font and size will need to be considered in the design.

2. Your loved one’s favourite thing:

From a favourite animal, saying or symbol, the most personal tattoo might be anything from a play on words to a design encompassing their musical instrument or hobby.

We loved hearing about the tattoo Cathy had in memory of her beloved pet dog whose name was ‘Rose’. Everyone always told Cathy that Rose and her were ‘joined at the hip,’ so after her beloved chihuahua died, Cathy had a rose tattoo placed on her own hip!

3. Anchor tattoos

An anchor is a traditional tattoo which works well as a memorial tattoo. Firstly, it could represent a love of the ocean or life at sea, but more symbolically it conveys strength, stability, and the notion of anchoring a living person to someone who has died.

4. Angel tattoos

Another traditional tattoo, angels are symbolic messengers between humans and the gods or spirits. An angel could represent the person who has died, guardianship or being watched over by the loved one after they have died.

5. Bee tattoo

Bees are also often used in tattoo art to represent hard work, willpower, resilience, but in ancient Egyptian symbolism they were considered messengers between mortals and the gods, as well as a symbols of eloquence and intelligence. This could make them a perfect memorial tattoo.

6. Bird tattoos

Birds are a popular choice for memorial tattoos symbolising freedom, flight and liberation from this life. Across all cultures, many birds from doves, sparrows to eagles are thought of as messengers, representing renewal, eternity and the transition between life and death.

7. Butterfly tattoos 

The ancient Greeks thought butterflies were an earthly representation of the soul, but butterfly tattoos have so many meanings: metamorphosis, renewal and flight or freedom which would be such a beautiful way to remember someone you love.

8. Feather tattoos

Feathers like birds could represent flight and freedom of the spirit, but Native Americans saw feathers as deeply spiritual and sacred. Feathers are light and floaty like the spirit and work beautifully as a soft gentle reminder of a loved one.

9. Infinity symbol

The symbol which was also used in the past as a religious symbol, was pinched by the English mathematician, John Wallis in 1655. Because of its continuous, unending loop design it represents infinity and as a reference to love, it represents infinite love, eternity and even rebirth.

10. Sugar Skull tattoos

The annual Mexican ‘Day of the Dead’ festival is an ancient celebration of life, death, and rebirth. It is about commemorating and welcoming their ancestors who they believe return each year to visit. This festival is colourful and joyful time and is families use bright colours and flowers to decorate skulls made from clay or sugar. This motif has been adopted around the world to connect with those who have passed. As such it is a perfect memorial tattoo.

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Memorial tattoos are symbols representing memories and feelings. They can both honour your loved one and help you remember good times. 

What is Tomorrow Funerals?

We are a new type of funeral home. We believe that finding genuine and new ways to honour your loved one can be an important step in starting your grief journey.

Our one simple funeral package includes:

  • a dignified cremation + transfers + death certificates + hand delivery of ashes
  • our Stories Bundle includes a tribute video + a website with online guestbook dedicated to your loved one + bound keepsake book + design of printed material for the memorial
  • finally, we carefully match you with one of our wonderful celebrants who will take time to plan a unique memorial event tailored specifically to your person

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We’re always here to help

Call us 24-hours / 7 days on 1800 574 824
Our Journal contains our entire list of resources for creating personal memorials.
Or visit our funerals page, for more information on our unique memorial style funeral package.