BY: CAROLINE ROLF
After the loss of a loved one, it’s common to keep a belonging of theirs to cherish the departed forever. Some choose to express their sympathy with a memorial tattoo.
Dedicating a piece of ink to the deceased is a common trend in the tattoo world. But for some, a simple design is not enough. Memorial tattoos have reached a new level, which sees the cremated remains infused into the ink.
Having a loved one infused directly into the body, cremation tattoos leave a mark that goes beyond the skin’s depth.
The tradition of memorial tattoos dates back to Polynesians, according to the Centre for Death and Society. The practice of commemorative or ritual tattoos continues to gain popularity presently as more bereaving people are seeking out personal works of body art.
Although some consider it a medical procedure, many tattoo artists are growing more comfortable with these unique types of markings. The microscopic amount of ashes is sterilized in an autoclave, as is the rest of the equipment. Once the cremains are a fine powder, they can be mixed with the ink.
Tattoo artist, Trish Rodgers has dedicated this paw print to her deceased cat, Thunder, mixing the cat’s ashes into the ink.
Some health and safety experts such as Health Canada warn that the “introduction of an unknown or unsterile material into the ink may cause injury to the user,” although advocates for ritual tattoos say that the sterile ashes pose no health risk whatsoever.
The entire process of death in our culture is heavily sanitized, from hospitals to funeral homes, only really subsiding for the service. These tattoos are a fascinating way to reopen the dialogue.