Marked in Memory

June 16, 2016

If you look closely at the cover photo for Still Standing magazine, you’ll see my feet. Though my ankles were swollen and I could’ve taken a more flattering shot, I wanted it to be real and for my son’s memorial tattoo to show.

It is the only tattoo I have.

Shortly after losing Austin, I knew I wanted a tattoo to visibly remember him and early on I could envision what it would look like. As the days neared to my first Mother’s Day without him, I headed to a nearby tattoo shop with a sketch drawn by my sister.

We chose a time when nobody else would be present, so only my husband, youngest son, and the artist were there. I wasn’t sure how emotional it would be for me; however it ended up being very therapeutic. Getting the tattoo didn’t hurt in the least, despite what I expected. Most of my family and friends knew nothing of it until weeks later and it shocked many.

I wanted angel wings incorporated into the design because I knew Austin was in Heaven. The wings wrap around him, much as I imagine the night they took him home. Austin deciding to become a Christian will always be one of my most treasured memories. Knowing where he is brings comfort, even though we still miss him with every breath.

Another important part for my tattoo was his unit number, 210, as it was special to him and our family. Austin, only 14 when he passed, was very proud to be a Jr Firefighter and he was thrilled to have his own unit number. Being a firefighter was all he ever wanted, following in his daddy’s footsteps. We were honored and touched when they retired his number at the funeral. Though hearing his “last call” at the graveside was what broke me, it was truly a privilege to have him remembered in that way.

People who don’t know me often ask what the number references. And each time, I proudly get to share a small piece of the difference my child made while on this earth. It is impossible to describe Austin in one word but that number symbolizes so very much of who he was.

I chose all black and grey because that is what it felt like with him gone, as if color had left our world.  In placement, I wanted it to be on my lower leg so it could be seen more. Some people say they wear their heart on their sleeve, I wear mine on my leg.

austin tat me_edited
first photo of tattoo, still red and healing


Eight years later, it isn’t the tattoo I would get now, though it isn’t one I regret. It is a snapshot of that season, early in grief. The first year without my son.


Do you have a memorial tattoo for your child? Share a photo of it in comments below.

– the images you upload must be your own tattoo, or that of your significant other and you must have permission to use the photo

– we are not held responsible for any misuse of the photos uploaded

– please only share memorial tattoos – meaning a tattoo that you have had done on yourself in your child(ren)’s memory. 

  • Heather Blair

    In 2008, my world as I knew it changed forever, with the sudden loss of our 14-year-old son, Austin. The journey to my blog (and attitude toward life) was bumpy and tearful, beginning at a memorial blog for my son. I later chose to take another path, challenging myself to find the JOY in every day, despite the sadness I still felt. I love and miss him daily but I'm living my life to honor him - and celebrating every moment it brings. My find and share the joy in every day. You can find me at Joyful Challenge


    • Chrissy O’Donnell

      June 16, 2016 at 8:39 am

      I left a comment with a picture of my memorial tattoo but it doesn’t look like the picture posted just the message

      1. Heather Blair

        Heather Blair

        June 16, 2016 at 7:07 pm

        We’re working on creating a tattoo board on our Pinterest page. Or you may try posting the pic in the Facebook comments. Thank you for trying.

    • Karen

      June 16, 2016 at 8:59 am

      My tattoo was also a mother’s day gift to myself on my first mother’s day without my beautiful daughter Danielle. Shortly after she passed I was going through a box of things I had kept from her childhood (she was 24 when she died ) and I came across a letter she wrote to me. It was one of those letters that little girls write to their mums telling me how much she loved me how beautiful and super intelligent I was. She had signed it …..Love always and forever Danielle. So my tattoo is on my inner wrist where I can see it anytime I need to and it says …Love always and forever. It means so much to me because every time I look at it it reassures me that I loved her and she loved me. That love lasts forever ever after death our love is forever and it is what connects us still and in the almost 2 years since she has passed I have come to realize that love is it. Love is the universal energy that we are all connected to each other with.

    • Kelly Christian

      June 16, 2016 at 9:40 am

      I had an inclination about 18 months prior to my 21 year old son getting killed in a motorcycle accident that I was going to being going through a tough situation and would need a daily reminder to keep going forward. So I chose “Walk by Faith” for my right foot. After my son’s accident, I had “Hope Anchors the Soul” put on my left foot in remembrance of him. My husband also had a memorial tattoo done on his arm for our son, Zac.

    • Cheri

      June 16, 2016 at 11:28 am

      my first tattoo is the Tragedy and Comedy masks hanging from ribbons. My daughter died in May and I wanted a tattoo. The masks represent how crazy my life felt after only a few weeks. I could laugh and minutes later be sobbing. It was exhausting.
      The next summer I had her name added.
      (i would post a picture of it, but i cannot find where to upload it)

    • Lorraine

      June 17, 2016 at 9:58 am

      I had my daughter’s footprint from the day she was born tattooed on my foot, along with her name in her hand writing. My daughter walks with me always

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