41 Powerful Stories Behind Tattoos With ʀᴇᴀʟ Meaning

So we decided recently to ask our readers about their tattoo ideas, and more precisely, about tattoos with a sᴇᴄʀᴇᴛ meaning behind them. Because anyone can rock up at the tattoo parlor and get their name done in Mandarin script or stamp a tribal tattoo design on their arm in a lame attempt to draw attention to their scrawny biceps, but not many choose to go with truly meaningful tattoos.

These unique tattoos are different; they are meaningful in deeply touching ways, from loving memories of departed family members to reminders of past struggles and the recovery from things like addiction and depression. This list compiled by  Bored Panda  will inspire and move you and perhaps make you reconsider that that rainbow-pooping unicorn you were thinking to get on your ankle and get a tattoo with meaning, not just a pretty picture.

Scroll down to check out the list below, and don’t forget to upvote your favorite tattoos with deep meaning!

After 7 Months, I Finally Got The Tattoo For My Parents, Dog, And Family Home

My Dad ᴅɪᴇd On December 15, 2016. Today, I Got A Tattoo

Tattoo To Support My Wife’s Fight With Depression

No Title Needed

My Mum ᴘᴀssed Away A Few Months Ago, Yesterday I Got My First Tattoo. She Used To Leave Us Little Post It Notes, I Got It Copied Out

Dad Got Cochlear Implant Tattoo To Match His Daughter’s Real One

Dad Tattoos His Son’s ᴄᴀɴᴄᴇʀ Scar On His Own Head To Boost Son’s Self-Confidence

His Son ᴅɪᴇd Of Sids Last Year, And Got A Waveform Tattoo Of His Sons Laugh

Dad ᴘᴀssed Away In 2009, Got A Note He Wrote In My 2nd Grade Yearbook As A Reminder

Simple Chart My Grandpa Drew For Me To Show Where My Home Is On The Surface Of The Earth With Longitude And Latitude

Tattoo Of The Book My Dad Was Reading When He ᴘᴀssed Away

Story behind the tattoo: My father ᴘᴀssed away before I was born, so I never met him. But everyone who knew him has always told me that I am exactly like him. Then in my senior year of high school, out of a list of literally thousands of books, I randomly chose to read All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy. When my mom saw that I was reading it, she got very excited and ran into her room. She brought out a copy of All the Pretty Horses from 1993, bookmarked to page 128. It was the book my father was reading before he ᴘᴀssed away. So I got a tattoo to memorialize my father and the connection I have with him despite the ғᴀᴄᴛ that I never met him

Just Got A New Tattoo! It’s A Poem My Dad Wrote To Me The Day I Was Born, He ᴅɪᴇd This Summer

Shot Heroin For 12 Years. Today Is 4 Years Clean. I Get A Tally Every 23rd Of July

Got My First Tattoo Today. The Big Brick Is To Represent My Big Brother Who ᴅɪᴇd One Day Shy Of His 40th Birthday This Year, In His Favorite Color, And The Little One (Hugging The Larger One) Represents Me, In My Favorite Color. We Always Built Lego Together

Got My Dads Last Handprint Tattooed On My Back. My Dad ᴘᴀssed Away Last November And I Had The Funeral Home Take His Handprint For Me And I Got It Tattooed On My Back

My Mom And Dad Had ᴄᴀɴᴄᴇʀ At The Same Time In The Same Hospital. He Wrote Her This Note When They Were Too Sick To Visit Each Other. This Is My First Ever Tattoo, In His Memory!

My Second Tattoo Nearly Two Weeks After My First. A Semicolon For sᴜɪᴄɪᴅᴇ Awareness. It May Be Small, But It Has A Powerful Meaning.

“When I was seven my father committed sᴜɪᴄɪᴅᴇ. Then I didn’t even know what it was. All I knew is I stopped seeing “daddy” all of the time. As I grew older, I heard more and more news topics, read more news articles, and heard more of my friends say “someone else just took their life.” I’ve become more concerned that people my age were taking their life because they were unhappy. Last year, someone whom I didn’t even know personally, but “knew of” through mutual friends took their own life for a temporary problem. After this incident, I came upon the semicolon project. The semicolon project was created for people going through struggles with self-harm, depression, and sᴜɪᴄɪᴅᴇ who could have stopped moving forward, but didn’t. The semicolon is used as the symbol because in a sentence, it separates two ideas. A period can replace a semicolon, but do not choose to do so because they don’t want to end that idea. The semicolon project strives for “not stopping when you can keep moving on. The author is you, and the sentence is your life.”

Something Silly For The “Extra Life” Heart Surgery Gave Me

Heartbreaking Story Behind This Tattoo

“Today was one of those moments I will never forget. A new father came barreling into the shop, a huge ball of energy, basically shouting from excitement “I JUST HAD A BABY GIRL AND I NEED HER NAME TATTOOED ON MY WRIST!!!!” With me hearing this I said congratulations and asked when he had her and he sai “3:30am this morning!!!” He was exhausted yet full of energy. So I set up, and we small talked about all of his kids. He has 5 now. 4 daughters and one son, who accompanied him. We were talking about the baby and he said “she is very important to me” and I said yeah I’m sure she is and he came back with “I have lung ᴄᴀɴᴄᴇʀ, it spread everywhere and there’s not much else they can do. I stopped chemo a month ago and I have 4 months to live. Rainy will carry on my life.” I got sort of choked up. The ғᴀᴄᴛ that I was tattooing someone who’s clock was literally ticking faster than anyone’s was just such a hard concept to wrap my head around. He was so ᴘᴏsɪᴛɪᴠᴇ and explained to me how he was living his life the best that he could. Every single day. He didn’t look sick. He had such an energetic smile and such a vibe like he had the world in his hands. Today was already humbling because I added onto a sleeve that is on my late best friend’s father. But this… this was the icing on the cake. A moment I truly will never forget. When he was leaving he gave me a really tight hug and genuinely thanked me, shook my hand, winked and said “see you soon”. Thank you rainy and your amazing father for reminding me to live everyday as if it was your last.”

My Mother ᴘᴀssed Away Unexpectedly Two Nights Ago. She Told Me Once That If Were Ever To Get Another Tattoo It Would Have Been A Fairy. I Also Found A Document While Going Through Some Stuff Where She Wrote, “I Love You Very Much. -Mom.” I Miss Her And I Know She Would Have Loved It

My Brother Was Murdered On February 6th, 2015. He Had “Honor Your Truth” Tattooed Across His Chest. We Cremated Him And We Are Putting His Ashes In A Bio Urn, So He Will Grow Into A Strong, Beautiful Oak Tree. This Is My Memorial Tattoo For Him

Best Friend Committed sᴜɪᴄɪᴅᴇ Last Year. Got Her Last Note As My First Tattoo. She Was Only 15-Years-Old, And I Was 17 When She ᴅɪᴇd. Tomorrow Is My 19th Birthday And I Miss Her More Than Any Words Could Express

Always Wanted A Tattoo Of A Dragon, And Skyrim Got Me Through Quitting Heroin In 2011 And Helped Me Stay Clean. I’m Super Happy I Finally Did It

One And Only Tattoo

My father ᴘᴀssed on Valentines day 2 days before I turned 18, I thought this quote from a prayer said during his funeral was perfect. He had written a birthday card about 30 minutes before his heart ᴀᴛᴛᴀᴄᴋ and it was signed “love ya, dad” so I had his handwriting put below the quote

For My 18th Birthday I Got A Tattoo Of My Dads Laugh On My Arm, He ᴘᴀssed 3 Years Ago. I Have His Smile And Joy Wherever I Go Now

My Twin Sister ᴘᴀssed Recently, Got These Done In Memory Of The Loss Of My Other Half

This Woman In New Orleans Lost Everything In Katrina. She Set A Goal Of Rebuilding The Home She Lost And Tattooed The Plans On Her Hands As A Daily Reminder While She Works Three Jobs To Achieve Her Dream

Though I Have A Bunch Of Tattoos This Is By Far My Most Meaningful

“This is a dedication to my sister who lost a ʙᴀᴛᴛʟᴇ with ᴄᴀɴᴄᴇʀ. My sister was special needs and couldn’t write many things but she did always sign her own cards. This tattoo is a scan from the last card she signed for me. I couldn’t think of a better way to ink her name than in her own handwriting.”

About A Month Ago, I Lost A Friend In A Climbing Accident. I Watched Him Fall 50 Meters To His Death. This Is My Reminder Of Him As Well As A Reminder To Myself To Climb Safe

I Got This 3 Days After My 18th Birthday, It’s My Grandfather Who ᴅɪᴇd When I Was 7 Holding Up The World In His WWII Uniform

This Whole Sleeve Wraps Around My Dad

“He ᴘᴀssed away from ALS and Multiple Systems Atrophy after suffering for 4 years on 9/14/16. The time on the clock is 9:14, which symbolizes the day he stopped suffering and was at peace once again. Frank Sinatra was his favorite artist, so while he was in the hospital in a medically induced coma, we started playing some of Frank’s music. My dad peacefully ᴘᴀssed on his own in the middle of the first song we played, “Fly Me To The Moon” which is written in the banner beneath the clock. The dove on my inner forearm symbolizes my dad going off on his new path to heaven. His memory lives on my arm with me forever.”

My Dad ᴘᴀssed Away A Week Ago, My Sister And I Got Tattoos In Our Hometown To Honor Him

The day my dad ᴅɪᴇd, my step mom asked if he could send her a cardinal. Since then, they’ve showed up in many different places. Cards, clothes, a figurine my mother sent her. I’m sure it’s because we’re looking for them but it has brought us a lot of comfort. So the red bird is for him.

The blue birds are for his parents, my gram and poppa. My poppa could mimic so many bird calls. My gram would give my sister and I blue bird figurines for major life events. They helped raise us and I miss them terribly

Tribute Tattoo For My Best Friend Who ᴘᴀssed Away

Family Tattoo

“The train is for my Papa Jim, who was a train engineer. The horse is for my Papa Don, since he adored animals. Then the two cows (theyre not finished yet) represent my mom and my stepdad, since they both worked in the cattle business.The dates below them are the dates they ᴘᴀssed away, which is why one cow doesnt have a date. I’m going to add more detail and colour after it heals and I’ll continue to add more so that it will wrap around my leg.”

My First Tattoo Had To Be A Sentimental One, My Moms Favorite Saying To Me In Her Hand Writing!

Girl I Know Had A Best Friend Who Was Murdered. After The Trial She Got A Beautiful Tattoo Of A Note Her Friend Had Written Her Years Before

Got This Note My Father Left Me As A Tattoo. My Father ᴘᴀssed Away And I Decided To Get This Tatted On My Calf Since He Had One On His

Tribute To A Friend Who ᴅɪᴇd In A Car Crash And Was On His Way To A Brilliant Racing Career

Tattoo For Grandma. Grandma ᴘᴀssed Away Last Year, So I Got The Actual Script Of A Letter She Sent My Grandpa When He Was Deployed In The 50s, And It’s An Audio Clip Of Her P.S. It is “You’ve Got Me Counting Days”

For Nana Who ᴘᴀssed, And Whose Birthday Was In St. Patricks Day

I Got This After A Really Really, Really Bad Breakup. I Needed To Cover Up A Silly Tattoo We Had Gotten Together (Yup, Learned My Lesson) And Decided To Do So With A Diamond Because They Are Unbreakable

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