People remember deceased loved ones in all sorts of different ways, with burial and cremation being two of the most popular methods.
However, there’s a new, some say skin-crawling way to memorialize those who have passed away: by preserving their tattooed flesh so it can be framed and displayed, according to a report by Nine News Australia.
That’s exactly what an Ohio father/son duo of morticians are doing. It’s called “Save My Ink Forever.” The operation is based in Northfield, Ohio outside of Cleveland.
The idea was developed by morticians Michael Sherwood and his son Kyle after a brainstorming session a few years ago over some drinks with friends.
One friend had recently lost his father and told the pair he wanted his father’s tattoo preserved.
Kyle Sherwood told Nine News Australia:
Being the guys our friends come to with death-related questions, we kind of laughed about it at first.
But their friend was serious, which got the Sherwoods thinking. Kyle continued in his interview with 9News.com.au:
With the art in tattoos and how much they mean to people, why not keep them after they die? People put ashes in urns on mantles and visit stones with their loved one’s names on them. Why not keep their tattoos as a memorial?
Eventually, the Sherwoods created their “Save My Ink Forever” business which gives people the option to save their loved ones ink as a piece of artwork.
The process isn’t easy or quick. Kyle states that the process can take up to four months to complete.
Here’s how it works:
First, the tattoo is surgically cut out of the body at the funeral home within 72-hours of the person passing and this can be done before or after embalming.
Then, the removed inked-flesh is treated “with the same dignity and respect as with any funeral preparation process,” according to Kyle.
Finally, the parchment of tattooed skin is framed as a wall piece for the family to mount on their wall.
The Sherwoods however, do draw the line at facial and genital tattoos, and will only frame the final product as a wall piece. Kyle says they have received and denied requests for the flesh to be turned into things like lampshades or book covers.
We are helping families and fulfilling their last wishes, We are not trying to create a freak show.
— Save My Ink Forever (@SaveMyInk4ever1) March 24, 2016
The Sherwoods’ practice is not without controversy, saying they have received backlash, from some people in the community.
Some have compared the Sherwood’s to infamous serial killer Ed Gein, who was known for digging up corpses from graveyards and making trophies, including lampshades, out of their skin and bones. Other social media commenters say it reminds them of the character “Buffalo Bill” an antagonist in “Silence of the Lambs” whose serial killer character murders women and skins them to make himself a suit of their skin.
But the backlash doesn’t bother Kyle who said:
It’s the family we care about – who am I to say how they should remember their loved one? Most super conservative people disagree with tattoos in general and have no idea what they mean to people.
The website states the following regarding their services:
Welcome to Save My Ink Forever where we have developed a unique proprietary process for PRESERVING TATTOOS. Our mission is to help carry on a loved one’s story. We hope to ensure that the spirit and legacy of your loved ones can live on for generations to come. Save My Ink Forever focuses on creating an everlasting memorial. At Save My Ink Forever we create more than just a picture. You receive the ACTUAL TATTOO. This becomes a framed piece of art that is presented to the family in a DIGNIFIED MANNER.
All of the funeral homes and crematories listed on the preferred provider page of our website are businesses willing to provide the service of removing a loved one’s tattoo art.