Crossing the Rainbow Bridge

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Crossing the Rainbow bridge

There is a bridge connecting Heaven and Earth.

It is called the Rainbow Bridge because of all its beautiful colours.

Just this side of the Rainbow Bridge there is a land of meadows,

hills and valleys with lush green grass.

When a beloved pet dies, the pet goes to this place.

There is always food and water and warm spring weather.

The old and frail animals are young again.

Those who were sick, hurt or in pain are made whole again.

There is only one thing missing,

they are not with their special person who loved them so much on earth.

So each day they run and play until the day comes

when one suddenly stops playing and looks up!

The nose twitches! The ears are up!

The eyes are staring and this one runs from the group!

You have been seen and when you and your special friend meet,

you take him in your arms and hug him.

He licks and kisses your face again and again –

and you look once more into the eyes of your best friend and trusting pet.

Then you cross the Rainbow Bridge together never again to be apart.

-Author Unknown

The rainbow bridge is synonymous with losing a beloved pet and if you’ve never read it before its meaning is clear. The sense that all pets will regain their vitality and youth and will be waiting for us when we die, offers many a lot of comfort.

Origins of the Rainbow Bridge poem

However, the poem’s origins are less obvious than its meaning. There are at least three contenders for the honour of being the author.

Paul C. Dahm

A grief counsellor from Oregon, Mr Dahm claims to have written the poem in 1981 but waited until 1998 to publish it in the book of the same name.

William N. Britton & Wallace Sife

William N. Britton and Wallace Sife also wrote books and poems on the theme of the Rainbow Bridge.

How does the poem help?

The poem promises that, one day, we will be reunited with all of the pets that we have shared our lives with when we pass away. Not only that, but any suffering our pet was experiencing immediately before they pass is removed. Out pets return to the best possible version of themselves and spend their days playing.

The comfort this provides is obvious to anyone that has experienced the passing of a pet. But the poem’s help goes beyond the obvious:

Rainbow Bridge shines light on disenfranchised grief

The poem also describes the loss of your best and most trusted friend – your pet.  It can make it easier for those that have never had a pet to understanding some of what’s been lost. In a sense, the poem helps to validate the strong feelings of grief experienced by pet owners when their pet dies and why it’s so important for them to have a dignified pet cremation service.

What is disenfranchised grief?

Have you ever heard the following phrase?

“I don’t get why you’re so upset. It was just a dog.”

There are still many people that unwittingly try to minimise someone’s feelings of grief after pet loss. Especially when they don’t understand why the feelings are so strong. Anyone that has had a bereavement minimised has experienced disenfranchised grief. When society doesn’t validate someone’s feelings of loss and grief.

What should you say to a bereaved pet owner?

Above we have given an all too common example of what not to say to a bereaved pet owner. But knowing what to say can tricky. If you are stuck, you could try offering simple condolences. Acknowledging your friend’s grief can be help enough. Options include;

  • Send a flowers with a note
  • A hand written sympathy card
  • A donation to an animal shelter in the pet’s honour

Other versions of the poem

Why not tell us which is your favourite version or your favourite poem in the comments below.

The Rainbow Bridge

By the edge of a woods, at the foot of a hill,

Is a lush, green meadow where time stands still.

Where the friends of man and woman do run,

When their time on earth is over and done.

For here, between this world and the next,

Is a place where each beloved creature finds rest.

On this golden land, they wait and they play,

Till the Rainbow Bridge they cross over one day.

No more do they suffer, in pain or in sadness,

For here they are whole, their lives filled with gladness.

Their limbs are restored, their health renewed,

Their bodies have healed, with strength imbued.

They romp through the grass, without even a care,

Until one day they start, and sniff at the air.

All ears prick forward, eyes dart front and back,

Then all of a sudden, one breaks from the pack.

For just at that instant, their eyes have met;

Together again, both person and pet.

So they run to each other, these friends from long past,

The time of their parting is over at last.

The sadness they felt while they were apart,

Has turned into joy once more in each heart.

They embrace with a love that will last forever,

And then, side-by-side, they cross over… together.

Written by Steve an Diane Bodofsky


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