How to Make Grief Visible – Tattoos and Other Ideas
As tattoos have moved from the purview of sailors and subcultures like bikers into the mainstream, memorial tattoos have become more and more common. If you are considering commemorating the life of your loved one in a permanent way, you have probably already taken a lot of time to plan the design and decide where you want to place it on your body.
There is significant healing to be found through the process of visible mourning, and tattoos have fulfilled this purpose very well for many people. If you already have tattoos the decision is probably a bit less daunting than if it is your first tattoo, but a memorial tattoo may hold a deeper significance for you than others you have, and as such, deserves special consideration.
The permanence of a tattoo is often attractive to people who want to remember their dearly departed. To have a mark on their body that will be there forever can be comforting.
Something to think about though is that perfect strangers often have no problem approaching a tattooed person to ask about their ink. If you think it may be too painful or invasive to be answering questions, you may want to think about a tattoo that is less obviously a memorial (like the names and dates of your loved one) and more symbolic/personal for you (a line of poetry they loved or their favourite flower)—that way you can choose whether you want to share your story with the person asking or if you’d rather gloss over the significance and not get into it right then and there. Not wanting to talk about your loss is a perfectly valid choice, just like needing to talk about it is.
However, a memorial tattoo isn’t right for everyone. A mourning symbol (like an armband https://grievingtogether.ca/shop/mourning-armbands/ or pin https://grievingtogether.ca/shop/mourning-pin/) can serve in a similar way, giving you the option to respond to questions with as much detail as you feel is appropriate for the situation and how your feel at that moment. A mourning symbol has the advantage that you can choose not to wear it for the times you decide to take a break from visibly mourning.
While you are in mourning, you may be looking for ways to wordlessly convey the sadness and grief you are feeling. Talking about the person you have lost can feel good, but letting people know you are grieving without a lengthy explanation for why you are having trouble coping with daily life right now can also be a relief. In that regard both mourning symbols and memorial tattoos have similar attributes.
There are many reasons why you may have considered a tattoo, but ultimately decided against it. Choosing between expensive, painful up-keep and fading, aging ink isn’t something everyone is willing to do. Deciding on the right design and finding the certainty that it is something you want to wear forever can be overwhelming…especially if you are currently in the fog of grief. Before you make the commitment, or if you are looking for alternatives to a tattoo, try wearing a mourning symbol. They bear a similar significance and, in some situations, might be a better choice. You know yourself best!
Grieving Together carries a selection of mourning symbols including ribbons, pins, armbands, and wristbands.
Take Time – Acknowledge Your Loss – Grieve Together