Dealing with grief in the aftermath of funeral planning is, to put it mildly, a difficult task. While the challenges of choosing a casket, paying for a funeral, and coordinating the memorial service can be overwhelming, it is what follows that provides the real struggle.
Everyone handles grief differently, and there are hundreds of counselors, support groups, and bereavement books out there to help you through your loss. For some people, though, talking about grief is not enough. You may wish to make a visible declaration of your feelings or commemorate the deceased in a way that will stay with you for the rest of your life.
Commemorative tattoos are one way to accomplish this. By stamping your body with a memory of the deceased—whether it’s the deceased’s name and important dates, a more personalized image, or even a footprint—you can carry a piece of your loved one with you always. Nothing says “I love you and miss you” quite like a memorial tattoo.
However, because this is a permanent option, it is important to make sure you plan ahead and arrange for an image (and tattoo artist) you know you’ll appreciate for the rest of your life.
- Take a Few Weeks to Think about It: You may want to rush out and get a tattoo soon after your loved one’s death or funeral, but it is better to take a few weeks to let your emotions settle first. There is no timeline for having a memorial tattoo inked.
- Find a Reputable Artist: A normal botched tattoo is bad enough—but when you are talking about your loved one’s death, a tattoo made in error is even worse. Find an artist you trust and whose work you admire. Ask to see a portfolio of other memorial tattoos they’ve done to ensure your vision aligns with theirs.
- Choose an Image that Matters to You: Do you want the artist to copy a photograph of the deceased? Provide a more traditional bereavement image like wings or a halo? Copy one of your own (or the deceased’s) designs? The image you go with will say a lot about your relationship with the deceased. Spend some time looking online at what other people have had done, or visit tattoo parlors to see what they offer.
- Consider Location: While employers may consider memorial more “appropriate” than other types of tattoos, they may still have restrictions regarding tattoo visibility. Choose a location on your body that won’t interfere with your personal or professional life.
- Double Check the Spelling and Dates: One wrong letter or number can ruin an otherwise flawless tattoo. Double (and triple) check to make sure everything is correct, and have a friend come to the tattoo parlor with you to ensure things stay that way.
Memorial tattoos may be able to help you come to terms with your loss in ways that more traditional bereavement steps cannot. Take the time to choose the right tattoo artist, and think about what kind of image you’d like to carry with you forever—although tattoos are reversible, the pain and costs involved rarely make this an ideal option.