• June 25, 2022

There is nothing quite so devastating as losing a loved one. The pain of knowing you’ll never see this person again can be too much to bear, especially if the loss happened recently. To help with the healing process, you may want to consider getting a memorial tattoo.

Simple tattoos for lost loved ones are the most heartwarming to honor that special someone that is no longer on this earth. Granted, they may not make the pain go away, but these tat ideas can certainly turn the loss into something bittersweet.

What Symbolizes Lost Loved Ones?

Lost

Grief is one of the most shattering feelings humans can endure. What’s more, it’s also a universally shared experience, with everyone around the world coming into contact with it multiple times in their lives. Therefore, it’s not surprising that people have come up with so many symbols to represent grief and the loss of a loved one.

Though these emblems can vary from culture to culture, they usually have some kind of spiritual significance. For example, animals like the raven, black cats, or bats have long been symbols of death and loss, especially in Western civilization. They also have strong religious associations, with many viewing them as conduits for evil.

Certain plant life also has strong associations with death. In fact, it’s standard practice in many places to give a certain number of a certain type of flowers during funerals. For instance, many Europeans give grieving families an even number of white lilies to symbolize their shared mourning. Other plants that are often associated with death include chrysanthemums, hyacinths, and cypress trees.

People have also linked grief and death with certain objects like candles, hourglass clocks, and a flag at half-mast. What’s more, colors such as black are a universally acknowledged way to express the inner turmoil you feel after losing a loved one.

In short, though grief is a horrendous emotion, it’s a natural part of life. As such, people have come up with ways to represent it. While many dismiss these emblems as nothing but superstition, for countless other grieving souls, they remain a healthy way to find acceptance after a tragic loss.

10 Simple Tattoos for Lost Loved Ones

Tattoos have always been a unique way to express different emotions—grief included. In fact, a recent survey showed that over 18% of people have some kind of memorial tattoo inked on their bodies.

What’s more, the participants reported that these types of tattoos have a much more positive connotation and serve as a way to cope with the loss. Therefore, if you’re struggling with the death of a loved one, consider immortalizing them with one of these beautiful memorial tattoo designs.

1. Butterflies

Butterflies

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Butterflies are the definition of a bittersweet memorial tattoo. For one, they represent death because of the pupating process the caterpillar goes through. However, they also symbolize rebirth and hope of healing since the insect emerges from its shell as a new and improved butterfly.

2. Hands in Prayer

Prayer

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If religion is a big part of your life, hands in prayer are the perfect memorial tattoo. It embodies the healing power of faith while simultaneously expressing your belief that you will see this person again, in another life.

3. Portrait of the Person

Portrait

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To be fair, portraits aren’t simple tattoos by any means. However, if you find a skilled artist to ink them, they can be one of the most powerful memorial tattoos ever. What’s more, they’re a great option if you’re interested in getting a larger piece of ink on, say, your chest or back.

4. Date

Date

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There is nothing simpler than inking a date to honor your loved one. This doesn’t necessarily have to be the date you lost them. It can also be the date you met or the date you experienced your happiest moments together.

5. Favorite Quote or Saying

Quote

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As the old saying goes, there is power in words. So it’s not surprising that quotes are such a popular memorial tattoo. They’re a simple and versatile piece of ink you can add to any part of your body. Plus, they can say whatever you like! You can opt for your loved one’s favorite book quote, poem, or song lyric.

You can even tattoo their catchphrase or their pet nickname for you. Whichever you choose, you’re guaranteed a tat that you will cherish for the rest of your life.

6. Flowers

Flowers

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As established, certain flowers symbolize grief and death. Therefore, you can use them to commemorate your lost loved one. However, you don’t necessarily have to pick a flower that represents grief. You can also choose a flower that best reminds you of the person you’ve lost.

7. Heart

Heart

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Hearts equal love — and while most people get them to celebrate their romantic partners, you can also use them to symbolize your grief. They’re a simple way to recontextualize the sadness you feel and focus on all the adoration you had for that person.

8. Doves

Doves

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If ravens are too dark for your liking, then consider tattooing doves. They’re internationally recognized as symbols of love, peace, and freedom. Plus, they play an important role in many religions as messengers. Therefore, they can be a great symbol of the bond you and the one you lost share.

9. Clock

Clock

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Clocks are often associated with death because they represent the limited time we all have on this earth. Therefore, they’re quite the obvious choice for a memorial tattoo. You can ink a clock face that shows the person’s time of death.

Alternatively, you can also pair up the clock with an inspirational quote about how the time you had together was limited, but you nevertheless cherished every moment with them.

10. Anchor

Anchor

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The people you love are the ones that give you confidence and safety. Therefore, there is no better way to represent them than with an anchor tattoo. This simple yet stunning design is an appropriate way to commemorate a parent, a grandparent, a sibling, or a partner. Plus, it’s small enough to fit on any part of your body.

4 Tips for Choosing Your Memorial Tattoo

Tips

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At the end of the day, choosing the right memorial tattoo design is going to depend entirely on you. You know the person you’re commemorating the best, so you will have to center the design around them. Nevertheless, here are a few tips that can help you choose the best memorial tattoo.

1. Pick a Design That Best Reminds You of the Person

This goes without saying, but a memorial tattoo should be something that makes you think of the person in question. However, that doesn’t mean you should choose something they liked specifically. The design can simply be anything that brings back memories of said person, even if they didn’t relate to that thing at all.

Therefore, take a trip down memory lane and think of all the things you did together with this person. Who knows, you may just find an incredible design idea hiding among all those happy recollections.

2. Choose Your Artist Carefully

A big reason so many people end up with bad tattoos is that they didn’t research their tattoo artist enough. Even if someone is a talented professional, that doesn’t guarantee they’ll do the design you had in mind justice. Therefore, be sure to choose someone who has experience doing the kind of artwork you want to get.

3. Consider How It Will Look

Thanks to modern technology like laser tattoo removal, tats are no longer forever. However, this is a memorial tattoo, not a random piece of ink you got while drunk. Therefore, it stands to reason you would want to keep it on your body forever.

So, after you’ve picked out the design, you have to make sure it actually looks good on your skin. Consider the size, the level of detail that will go into the tattoo, and the color scheme that will best fit the design and your complexion.

Most often, complex tats look better scaled up, while others are best left small. Likewise, many tattoos are better in black and white, while others will pop only if you add a splash of color.

4. Nail the Placement

Where you put your tattoo is also an extremely important part of the inking process. Every expert will tell you that some body parts are easier to tattoo than others. This is because they hurt too much, or the shape makes the tattooing process long and laborious.

So, make sure you choose the tat placement carefully. For example, large tats often require a lot of surface area so the details can be visible. On the other hand, plaintext tattoos can fit practically anywhere, from your wrist to your foot.

Janet is a post-doctoral research candidate working as a freelance writer. She also moonlights as a doodle artist and wishes to publish her own comic book inspired by her life story one day.