20 Tattoo Ideas For A Lost Loved One

The history of memorial tattoos is one we can all relate to and empathize with.

Losing the ones we love most is one of the hardest things to happen in our life. And it will happen a lot.

What’s even harder is accepting the fact that we won’t see them or hear them ever again, we won’t share special occasions with them anymore either. We lose contact with them in a literal sense.

And the desire to remain in contact is at its peak at that very moment.

So, one thing that helps a lot of people is carrying mementos or pictures of our lost ones with us to keep them close.

For others, that’s not enough, and they have a need to find a permanent way to remain close to their deceased family or friends.

That’s why more people are looking for tattoo ideas for a lost loved one, which allows them to carry their memories wherever they go.

Even though there are no stats out there on how many people request memorial tattoos, the trend does seem to be growing.

When Should You Get A Memorial Tattoo?

You might feel like going to a tattoo parlor or designer as soon as you hear the news of a dear one passing, craving for an imminent channel to your sudden grief.

However, it’s best to wait until you have given yourself time to grieve and mourn your loved one before you make any decision about getting a tattoo.

No matter how cathartic it may sound, making such a permanent decision when your emotions are particularly high is rarely a good idea.

One angle you can consider is this one – the last thing you want is a memorial tattoo that reminds you of them at the moment only, but you don’t associate with their legacy long term.

A tattoo that symbolizes and honors your most loved one should reflect their personality, interests, and your relationship.

Still, it also does have to be something that you will be proud to wear on your own skin.

For that reason, many recommend waiting until 3 months have passed before considering a tattoo design for a lost loved one.

The Most Personal Way To Go About It – Ritual Tattoos

There has been a recent addition to what is commonly known as memorial tattoos, and it’s the so-called ritual tattoo.

The continuous development of technology has also influenced the tattoo industry, providing the opportunity to add the cremation ashes of your loved one to the tattoo ink mixture used for your memorial tattoo.

Many wish there was a way that one could carry something of that special person around with themselves forever.

So, how does this cremation ash tattoo ink work?

Essentially, a small amount of cremation ashes are added to the tattoo ink planned to be used for the tattoo.

This ash-infused ink solution is done by many companies online that offer this service, which handles the entire process after you send them a sample of the ashes.

Later on, this ink solution is used for tattooing, just as a regular tattoo would be.

The companies that offer this service claim that the use of ashes in inking is completely safe, given that the cremation is done at 1800 degrees Fahrenheit.

They have not yet been FDA approved, so make sure to do your research and consult your dermatologist if they think it’s okay in your specific situation.

One more challenge might be finding the tattoo artist to perform the inking, as it’s still a controversial topic in the tattoo industry.

For the most part, however, tattoo artists themselves decide whether they are or are not willing to do them and they fall under the same sanitation regulations as any other tattooing procedure.

How To Come Up With A Memorial Tattoo?

Due to the fact that memorial tattoos are so specific to every person, no matter how you go about it would be the correct way.

Some guidelines that the team of professional tattoo designers at Tattoo Stylist offers are that it is always better to go for a design that makes you feel loved, watched over and grateful for the loved one you’re trying to honor with it.

You might regret that less than getting a mournful or sad tattoo. The pain is real, and will never completely go away, but the memory can still be a joyful one.

Having said that, the reality of choosing a good memorial tattoo is very important to one’s deepest feelings.

All told, here are some things to consider when choosing a memorial tattoo so you don’t regret it:

  • Make it as personal as possible
  • It doesn’t have to be an obvious reference
  • Make sure to double check grammar or spelling
  • Find the right artist if you’re going for a photo-realistic portrait

Best Tattoo Ideas For a Lost Loved One That Will Inspire You

Commemorative tattoo designs are done in remembrance of a certain loved one who is no longer with us.

When we start coming up with the tattoo design, we start rewinding our entire relationship with this person – everything we shared: birthdays, vacations, memorabilia, hobbies, passions, the feelings they made us feel.

We try to pay a tribute to a dear person we lost and mark the end of their journey, but without forgetting them.

That said, the best memorial tattoos are the ones that are the most personal ones.

They can be objects, names, dates of birth or dates of death, a symbol, zodiac sign, animal, and much more.

They stem from the old days when the American traditional school of tattooing started doing so-called “Mom tattoos” – a simple heart with the word “Mom” written on a ribbon.

The memorial tattoos have since evolved, and there are a lot of creative options and tattoo ideas out there.

Depending on your budget, willingness to go through more or less pain, and overall style, you can also go for photo-realistic portraits, big flower arrangements, and vacation scenes.

Before we move onto our top 10 memorial tattoo ideas, we reiterate one more time:

These are highly emotional moments and circumstances, and it is advised to let the grief get a cooling before one takes a drastic decision of getting inked.

1) Zodiac Flower Tattoo

Zodiac Flower Tattoo
Memorial tattoo by @naomi_graphicsandneedles

Zodiac tattoos are one of the most popular and easy-to-custom memorial tattoos. You can add more zodiac elements to make it unique and fit your style.

The diversity of these elements (from the small glyphs, all the way to big depictions of zodiac animals and objects) allows a variety of tattoo ideas for a lost loved one, no matter the size you go for.

Zodiac tattoo designs can fit any style – geometric, tribal, realistic, mandala, illustrative, and so on.

2) Realistic Praying Beads and Hand With Writing

Praying Beads Tattoo
Memorial tattoo by @fanged_arts

For many spiritual people around the world, their religion is the saving grace they need after a loss of a loved one.

Religious memorial tattoos are common for this reason, and can be customized for every size and style.

You can go for a hand holding the beads like above, or sun rays, dove, and many other religious objects and depictions that are close to your experience or the person you’re trying to honor with the tattoo.

3) Favorite Token Given To You By The Person With Flowers

Teddy Flowers Tattoo
Memorial tattoo by @hellabellatattoos

This tattoo is one of a pin given to the wearer by their father who passed away. Regardless of what that object is, it can be customized into a tattoo.

From pendants, pins, all the way to paintings, sculptures and other memorabilia, the most important thing is that it reminds you of your loved one.

The flowers around make it a dainty and elegant memorial tattoo that will look beautiful in the years to come.

4) Realistic Tiny Portrait Of The Person

Person Portrait Tattoo
Memorial tattoo by @seveneves_tattoo

For many, the obvious is the way to go. And those are the portraits of your loved ones.

This is especially the case if you have a photograph that really shows the personality of the person.

For some it’s also a photograph that portrays a certain era in the person’s life.

It sounds like an easy category, but it’s immensely varied.

If you have a talented portrait tattoo artist in your vicinity, giving them a photo of your favorite person is a great way to get a memorial tattoo.

5) Your Favorite Place With A Small Symbol

Favorite Place Tattoo
Memorial tattoo by @lobabyj

One common motif in memorial tattoos is having a sunset scene, hinting at the setting of one’s life.

The sunset can be over any type of scene you would connect to the lost loved one: lake, river, mountains.

It’s a great option for outdoor people, who have spent a lot of time in nature with their loved ones.

That said, above we have one with a lake and two swans representing the passed partners and their love.

6) Their Favorite Animal With The DOB and DOD

Bunny Tattoo
Memorial tattoo by @flooritcourt

The favorite animal of an animal lover is a great way to go when getting a tattoo to honor them.

In the example, we have a bunny holding a birth flower of the person’s grandmother.

That said, it’s a versatile type of composition where you can use different elements with the animal as the base.

7) Their Profession Or Favorite Hobby Scene

Hobby Scene Tattoo
Memorial tattoo by @wheelhousetattooco

There are people who have an all-encompassing hobby that perfectly reflects their personality and life.

For them, getting a tattoo of a scene with their favorite hobby is a great way to honor them.

The example shows a small airplane, which would be a perfect memorial tattoo to honor a loved one that was an avid amateur pilot.

8) Their Birth Flower

Birth Flower Tattoo
Memorial birth flower tattoo by @lucyfer_artist

If you’re going for a small and dainty memorial tattoo, getting a birth flower is very meaningful and elegant – no matter the style or the flower itself.

It’s also a great choice for somebody looking for a small memorial tattoo, one that you can easily hide or adapt to your personal style.

And, if you’re trying to honor multiple people at the same time, you can go for a flower bouquet consisting of the birth flowers of each family member.

9) Photography From The Favorite Vacation

Vacation Tattoo
Memorial photography tattoo by @devilsdaughters

When we’re on the topic of holding onto memories with your loved one, getting a photographic memorial tattoo of your favorite vacation spot is a great idea.

We mention this in the part of getting a sunset, but this one is a lot more open-themed.

Again, it can be very outdoorsy, but it can also just show scenery from your favorite city, or place that you’ve visited a lot together.

10) Dove, Compass And The Birth Flower

Dove Compass Flower Tattoo
Memorial tattoo by @bigdogtattoos

Dove, compass and rose are common symbols for a lost loved one, and ones that will never get old given their elegance and timelessness.

The doves are a Biblical symbol, whereas compass and rose relate more to the naval and floriography symbols.

Sailors have tattooed compasses as a way to always remain on the course, and if you’re lost loved one was an important figure growing up, this is the perfect symbol.

A rose is a symbol of love, and dedication, so it’s commonly seen in memorial tattoo designs.


Memorial tattoos are a great way to honor someone that you’ve lost and to keep them close with you forever.

Those who remember a loved one with a tattoo describe it as a cathartic process that publicly expresses the memory.

However, no matter how overcome we are with a desire to do something to memorialize the person we loved the most, we should still take a moment to come up with a unique memorial tattoo idea.

The memorial tattoo will keep your loved ones with you all the time and help you heal and honor them.