10+ Powerful Stories Behind Tattoos With Real Meaning

So we decided recently to ask our readers about their tattoos, and more precisely the stories behind them. Because anyone can rock up at the tattoo parlor and get their name done in Mandarin script, or stamp a tribal on their arm in a lame attempt to draw attention to their scrawny biceps.

These tattoos are different, they are meaningful in ways that are deeply touching. 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 considering getting on your ankle.

Scroll down to check out the list below, and don’t forget to upvote your faves!

Story behind the tattoo: My father passed 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,…

Story behind the tattoo: My father passed 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 passed away. So I got a tattoo to memorialize my father and the connection I have with him despite the fact that I never met him

“When I was seven my father committed suicide. 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…

“When I was seven my father committed suicide. 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 suicide 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.”

“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…

“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 cancer, 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 fact 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 positive 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 father passed 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 attack and it was signed “love ya, dad” so I had his handwriting put below the quote

“This is a dedication to my sister who lost a battle with cancer. 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.”

The day my dad died, 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…

The day my dad died, 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

“He passed 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 passed on his own in the…

“He passed 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 passed 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.”

“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 passed away, which is why one cow doesnt have a date. I’m going to add more detail…

“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 passed 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.”

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