Alaska Tattoo Artist Uses Ashes to Help Clients Remember Loved Ones
Getting a tattoo reminder is one way to remember a loved one who has passed away, but an Alaska tattoo artist known as Miss Judy takes these permanent tributes one step further, by using the loved one’s ashes as a part of the tattoo. Miss Judy is an artist at the Larry Allen Tattoo Shop in Anchorage, Alaska, and for 30 years, she has helped clients find the perfect tattoo. Sometimes this involves mixing a small amount of ashes into the black ink before it’s tattooed, creating a unique memorial that the wearer can always carry with them.
Getting a tattoo using ashes is a personal choice of course, and while everyone who walks into Miss Judy’s tattoo shop has their own way of coping with loss, it seems more and more people are requesting this special tattoo, like Dayna Durr, a mother of three who decided to get a tattoo memorial for her daughter, Jordyn, who was killed by a drunk driver alongside her best friend in 2013, when she was only 15 years old. “She came from my body,” Durr says of her daughter. “I gave birth to her. I created her. And now that she’s passed and her physical self is no longer with me, the ashes can signify her returning to my body.”
For those concerned about the safety of using ashes in a permanent tattoo, Miss Judy says there’s nothing to worry about. “You’re getting [a] very, very, very tiny amount in there,” she explains. “But you are getting the ash. And that’s what makes people happy.” Dayna Durr’s ashes tattoo features three lily flowers, one for each of her children, and a black heart made up of the silhouettes of a mother and daughter embracing. Durr explained the meaning behind her tattoo, saying, “Jordyn’s ashes are in the black silhouette of the mother and daughter. And since it’s shaped like a heart it just to me means our eternal love.”
When it comes down to it, Miss Judy sees her role as part artist, part therapist, and says she’s helping people grieve by giving them these special tattoos made with the ashes of their loved ones. “It’s really nice to help them, that’s for sure. It’s very emotional.” And clients like Dayna Durr seem to agree. She had her memorial tattoo inked on her wrist, so she could place it near her heart during difficult times. “We all have to develop our coping strategies throughout life,” Durr says, “and this is one that really helps me to feel good about keeping [my daughter’s] memory. It beings me a lot of peace that she’s with me always.”