10 Memorial Tattoos for a Brother or Brother-in-Law


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Is your brother your best friend — or your brother-in-law? (The fact that you may not be blood-related doesn’t mean you can’t share a special bond.)

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It can be unbelievably painful when your brother dies, so you may want to cope with your feelings by memorializing him. You may want to focus on the love you shared instead of the grief you now feel.

Why not get a memorial tattoo so you know what to do in memory of someone important who’s passed on? If this option appeals to you, consider these specific tattoo ideas.

If you're interested in other unique ways to honor a loved one, you may consider a custom urn from a store like Foreverence or even have a memorial diamond made from ashes with a company like Eterneva.

Post-loss tip: If you'd like some guidance working through the complex tasks you may be facing after losing a brother or brother-in-law, our post-loss checklist can help. 

Small Memorial Tattoo Ideas for a Brother

The love siblings share for brothers is often a special bond that no one else can truly understand. That’s why some siblings choose to get small tattoos — it doesn’t catch others’ attention and illustrates the personal nature of that bond. If that’s the type of tattoo you want, consider the following:

» MORE: Grief can be lonely. Create space for your community to share memories and tributes with a free online memorial from Cake.

1. Heart

A heart tattoo to honor someone like a lost brother is just as meaningful as more creative ways to honor someone.

You can fit a small heart tattoo on any spot on your body and put your brother's name inside it.

2. Infinity symbol

An infinity symbol (a sideways figure eight) is a common choice for many different types of tattoos. That said, it’s particularly striking when used in a tattoo memorializing a deceased brother.

Replace the strands of the figure eight with text using quotes or a brother’s name and the words “Rest in Peace.”

The shape of an infinity symbol naturally shows a close, unbroken bond. The symbol’s meaning also suggests the idea that the bond will never break.

3. Name on wrist

You can ink your brother’s name in the font of your choice on your wrist. You can also include text such as “RIP” or your brother’s death anniversary. That’s an option to keep in mind if you’re not sure how to acknowledge a death anniversary.

The name and basic accompanying text alone are sufficient for some people who want simple memorial tattoos for brothers. However, depending on your tastes, you might want to add extra small details, such as angel wings to either side of the text.

Medium or Large Memorial Tattoo Ideas for a Brother

Do you prefer larger tattoos that serve as impossible-to-ignore reminders of brother love? If so, keep these in mind.

» MORE: An online memorial is a perfect ending to honor and celebrate someone's life. Create one for free.

4. Handshake

Few images symbolize the idea of brotherhood more clearly than a handshake. Many memorial tattoos for brothers involve large handshake illustrations. You can also feature some text above and/or below the hands that indicate the tattoo’s purpose.

This tattoo can cover up an entire forearm, chest, or upper back. Research your options before choosing a tattoo artist if you decide this is the right design for your tastes. A realistic-looking tattoo of a handshake must feature precise details and requires a certain degree of skill.

5. Full poem

An entire poem could take up a large portion of your torso or back — or you could consider a smaller verse.

Look for a poem that summarizes your feelings about a lost brother or brother-in-law. Options to consider include “His Journey’s Just Begun” by Ellen Brenneman, “He is Gone (Remember Me)” by David Harkins, and “His Peaceful Grave” by an anonymous poet.

6. Bird in flight

This tattoo is typically medium-sized — ideal for an arm, shoulder blade, or another spot with a decent amount of horizontal space.

It’s usually a black silhouette (although it can be in color) of birds sitting on the branch of a tree — with one bird flying away. This simple image immediately conveys the idea of a lost brother leaving a family behind but flying off somewhere better, where they will eventually join him.

You might also want to include accompanying text that clarifies its significance, such as a “Rest in Peace” quote with your brother’s name.

Memorial Tattoo Sayings and Quotes for a Brother

Don’t want to cover a large area of your body with a full poem? You might still want a tattoo that uses words to express your love for a lost brother. 

» MORE: Online obituary that is 100% free. Honor a loved one beyond a newspaper.

7. “There is no love like the love for a brother. There is no love like the love from a brother.”

It can sometimes feel impossible to genuinely describe the love siblings share in words.

This Astrid Alauda quote openly acknowledges that reality. It may be the perfect quote for your tattoo if you want one that expresses the bond you and your brother shared and how it transcends any possible description.

8. “I had a brother who was my savior.”

The full version of this quote, which most sources attribute to author Maurice Sendak, reads “I had a brother who was my savior, made my childhood bearable.” That may be appropriate if your brother helped you cope with a difficult childhood.

A brother can be a savior in numerous other ways. You could shorten the quote to the first half and still make perfect use of it.

9. “I am my brother’s keeper.”

This tattoo modifies the Bible verse, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” in an empowering way.

Technically, the quote comes from a Bible story. Cain, who murders his brother, Abel, cynically rejects the idea that he should feel any responsibility or concern toward his brother. Many Christians have come to use the modified version “I am my brother’s keeper” to describe the feelings of love and responsibility they genuinely do have for their brothers.

10. Any of the lyrics from Elton John’s ‘Daniel’

Take your pick here. While you may want to modify the lyrics you choose to include your brother’s name, it’s hard to go wrong with a selection from this song.

Elton John and his lyricist Bernie Taupin ended up cutting a verse from the original draft of the song before recording and releasing it. They did this to ensure the track would be short enough for radio success.

Many don’t realize that Taupin wrote the song from the perspective of a younger brother saying goodbye to his brother who’s fleeing the U.S. Taupin took inspiration from a newspaper story about a young man who tried to return to his normal way of life in the U.S. after returning from the Vietnam War but had to leave the country and start over somewhere else when he found that living a normal life in his old home was no longer possible.

In other words, the song’s lyrics describe the feelings of a sibling saying goodbye to a brother he’s lost due to war. This makes any quote from this song an ideal choice if you’re getting a memorial tattoo for a brother who died in combat.

Memorial Tattoo for a Brother: Celebrating an Unbroken Bond

Losing a brother can feel like losing a part of yourself. However, by honoring their memory, you can move on and continue living the life your brother would want for you. These ideas may help.

Another way to honor a loved one is by creating an online memorial page. This creates a place where family and friends can write tributes and make a donation for funeral expenses. It's free and easy to create an online memorial page with Cake.

Looking for more ideas to remember or celebrate a brother? Read our picks for the best funeral songs for a brother and how to write a eulogy for a brother.


  1. Foy, Joseph J. “Homer Simpson Goes to Washington: American Politics Through Pop Culture.” The University Press of Kentucky, 2008, books.google.com/books?id=T7AfBgAAQBAJ&pg=PA203#v=onepage&q&f=false
  2. Rosen, Craig. “Bernie Taupin: The Billboard Interview.” Billboard, Billboard, 4 October 1997, books.google.com/books?id=1wkEAAAAMBAJ&pg=RA1-PA14-IA31&dq#v=onepage&q&f=false
  3. Haynes Jr., Clarence L. “The Important Biblical Meaning for Today of ‘Am I My Brother's Keeper’.” Crosswalk.com, Crosswalk.com, 22 May 2020, https://www.crosswalk.com/faith/spiritual-life/biblical-ways-to-be-my-brothers-keeper-today.html

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