Tattoos can sometimes translate or describe a person’s story or point of view. From my experience, I’ve yet to meet anyone who didn’t have a thoughtful and compelling story behind their permanent mark. My own tattoo is almost two years old this month. Recently I’ve been thinking about it a lot. I’ve been thinking about how, still to this day, it inspires me every time I look at it. It truly is a slice of mindfulness. It’s also quite common for a lot of widows and widowers to have them for different reasons. I guess I’m no different.

After Katherine’s funeral, I started to develop a desire to have something unique to represent my wife’s memory in a special way. The seed of this idea was originally planted from a conversation I had with a close friend. I remember how he presented me with a picture of a stunning tattoo his wife had done. She had it inked on her arm in honour of their daughter, who they had lost not too long ago. When describing the reason for her choice in design, I became captivated in his description of “it will always remind her of the happy moments”. From that point onwards, it was never up for debate.

Like many of the choices I’ve made in widowhood, several of my friends and family had their own options about it. I had to bang the old “you haven’t been through this, you just don’t know how I feel” drum. I just wanted something that was externally visible on my right shoulder. Something that wasn’t concealed deep within my heart and mind. I wanted to engrave a memorial to Katherine on my body for the rest of my life.

Contrary to popular opinion, memorial tattoos can be more than just names, sayings and angels. They can be more beautiful and meaningful than any tribal tattoo or fashion sleeve. If you are considering something like this then you must be prepared for some pressing inquiries if you plan to consult family and friends about the idea. At first, many of my nearest and dearest missed the opportunity to see the beauty of my design and its symbolism. Not that it really mattered, it was going to happen whatever they thought. However, as time went on I did manage to ease some tensions when I explained the reasons behind my choice.


My design was about a lesson I identified during the grief process. A lesson on the desire to have hope.

The Hawaiian palm tree is thriving and positioned in a place of beauty, signifying the full, beautiful life I have experienced both then and now. However, as nature will always remind us, nothing will last forever.

The beach is where my old life ‘was’ and will remain.

The rear-facing edges of Diamond head mountain represent the emotional heights and struggle from experiencing the loss of Katherine. My outlook is, that by conquering these ‘heights’ could lead me to find happiness again. A life I can be proud to lead; One filled with purpose instead of suffering, gratitude instead of envy, life instead of death.

Ultimately my tattoo is a symbol of my past and all the choices I have made since Katherine passed. Choices which have made me who I am today. Choices that remind me that I am far stronger than I know. It is my reminder of love and healing that will always be with me. It can’t be broken, lost or changed; It is a very clear and simple reminder of the beautiful person who left a deep impression on me.