The Rainbow Bridge: Symbol of Comfort for Pet Owners
Just like losing a human, losing a pet is a devasting experience. The unique bond between pets and their humans is deep and unbreakable and the loss leaves a giant void. Sadly, it’s a heartache that all pet owners have to face at some point. Sadder yet, is the fact that most pet owners struggle to find comfort from their families or friends. That’s where the Rainbow Bridge comes in, as it offers a bit of solace for some folks.
What is the Rainbow Bridge
It is a mythical place that connects Earth and the heavens via a rainbow bridge, where pets of all sorts frolic in lush green fields, with wildflowers and rolling hills, playing with toys they love while waiting for their people to arrive so they can all go off to Heaven together. It is a comforting thought, indeed, that our furry lil besties are waiting for us in the afterlife.
If you had to make the excruciating decision of having your pet euthanased The Rainbow Bridge can help ease some of that guilt too. Pets arrive at The Rainbow Bridge injury and pain-free, completely restored, and older pets have all the energy of youth.
Which Pets Can Go to The Rainbow Bridge
While there may be a large number of cats, dogs, and birds, The Rainbow Bridge is there for every pet. There are no requirements to be met for a pet to get to the Rainbow Bridge. Any pet, like a cow, a bat, or a snail has equal access. In fact, pets don’t even require human love to get to there, as homeless pets go there too.
Is it Connected to Religion
Its origin, no doubt, stems from Christian ideals, but one of the best things about The Rainbow Bridge is that it’s probably one of the most inclusive notions ever. Regardless of your religion, or lack of one, the Rainbow Bridge has room for all. It’s a concept that can be molded to fit whatever your belief system allows. Your version of The Rainbow Bridge doesn’t have to be exactly like my version.
Who Wrote The Rainbow Bridge
Edna Clyne-Rekhy was only a teenager when she wrote The Rainbow Bridge in 1959. Her beloved dog, Major, had died in her arms and she was utterly heartbroken. Her mother encouraged her to write down how she was feeling; in doing so, Edna has brought comfort to millions across the globe.
“It just came through my head, it was like I was talking to my dog—I was talking to Major,” she says. “I just felt all of this and I had to write it.”
Some version of the poem is often given at most veterinary offices and they usually have it posted on the wall. The Rainbow Bridge reminds us that pets are an integral part of our lives, that their love and companionship will never be forgotten, and that we will indeed see them again.
The Rainbow Bridge Poem
By Edna Clyne-Rekhy
Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge. When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, your pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water, and sunshine, and friends are warm and comfortable.
All the animals who have been ill and old are restored to health and strength, those who were hurt are made better and strong again, like we remember them before they go to heaven. They are happy and content except for one small thing, they each miss someone very special to them who had to be left behind.
They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance, his bright eyes are shineing (sic), his body shakes. Suddenly he begins to run from the herd, rushing over the grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cuddle in a happy hug never to be apart again. You and your pet are in tears. Your hands again cuddle his head and you look again into his trusting eyes, so long gone from life, but never absent from your heart, and then you cross the Rainbow Bridge together.
You don’t have to be sad alone. Come join our community in celebrating the ups and downs of having a pet, where you can share your grief and memories. Celebrating All Pets Great & Small is a safe place where you’ll never have to feel weird for your depth of sadness or hear those cold words “it was just a pet”.
-Ann Marie Gardner “What is the rainbow bridge and why do we think dead pets cross it?” Washington Post 05/01/2018 Web. 02/2023
-Rachel Nuwer “The ‘Rainbow Bridge’ has comforted millions of pet parents. Who wrote it?” National Geographic 02/22/2023 Web. 03/2023
-Rainbow Bridge (pets). (2023, February 9). In Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rainbow_Bridge_(pets)
(2017) Pet Loss, Complicated Grief, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in Hawaii, Anthrozoös, 30:1, 123-133,