The Rainbow Bridge
UPLIFTING animation by Terri Pike
Music by Kerry Muzzey
Updated Wednesday, February 1, 2012
“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.”
— Anatole France
Losing a loved one is heartbreaking, and too often lonely. Little understood by those who haven't had the joy and sorrow of a truly deep human/animal bond, we have grieved alone. This site is dedicated to both the beloved animals and in honor of those unnamed and unloved animals who die unnoticed each day. May we one day realize that all animals matter and may no animal ever die unloved again. May the quotes below, resources and art bring some peace to your heart.COPING with GRIEF AND LOSS
DO FIRST if you pet goes missing • Grief RESOURCES • LINKS • INSPIRATION
“It is NEVER a waste of time to pet a cat.”—An “Anonymous Kind Stranger”
“A ray of sunshine is never lost,
The green that it inspires must take time to grow,
It is not always for the sower to see the fruits of the harvest.”
“If we go to heaven, so do they…because if dogs are not there, it is not heaven.”
—Elizabeth Marshall Thomas
Quotes“An angel came to me one day,
A ball of fur in hand.
The angel gave the ball to me,
As we stood there in the sand.
She said to me, "It's just a loan,
For only a short time."
And she would surely return one day,
For the ball of fur wasn't mine.
I looked down at the ball of fur,
Two eyes stared back at me.
I fell in love upon that day,
As I held it close to me.
Years went by and my love grew,
As close friends we became.
I looked down at my ball of fur,
Life was never again the same.
No matter where I found myself,
My friend would be there, too.
Then one day the angel came,
I didn’t know what to do.
She said that now the time had come,
To take my friend back home.
I watched her leave with tear filled eyes,
As I remembered “It's just a loan.”—Hoyt Northcutt “Pets are loaned to us by God for a short time to teach each of us humility and unconditional love.”—Hoyt Northcutt “Only animals were not expelled from Paradise.”—Milan Kundera“Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge. When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that animal 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 our friends are warm and comfortable. All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing: They each miss someone very special, someone who was left behind. They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. Her bright eyes are intent: her eager body begins to quiver. Suddenly, she breaks from the group, flying over the green grass, faster and faster. You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into those trusting eyes, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart. Then you cross the Rainbow Bridge together…”—Author unknown
“Oh Noble Creature the time has come for the two of us to part. And for you to go to a better place, a place deep inside my heart. A place where you’ll be be free to chase cars and balls and play. So go noble creature thru that doggy door. And fetch a stick that’s thrown by God. And wag thy tail forevermore while a friendly voice repeats, “Good dog, good dog.”—Author unknown
“I am standing upon the seashore. A ship at my side spreads her white sails to the morning breeze and starts for the blue ocean. She is an object of beauty and strength. I stand and watch her until at length she hangs like a speak of white cloud just where the sea and sky come to mingle with each other.
“Then someone at my side says: There, she is gone!'
“Gone from my sight. That is all. She is just as large in mast and hull and spar as she was when she left my side and she is just as able to bear her load of living freight to her destined port.
“Her diminished size is in me, not in her. And just at the moment when someone at my side says: 'There she is gone!' there are other eyes watching her coming, and other voices ready to take up the glad shout: "Here she comes!'
“And that is dying.”—Henry Van Dyke
“In a place and time not far from here twins were conceived. As they grew in awareness within the womb they shared the JOY of BEING alive. When they found their mother's cord they sang: "How great is our mother's love, she shares her own life with us! But as time pasted and they grew older great and frightening changes began happening to their bodies.
"What does it mean?" said the girl.
"It means our stay in this world is coming to an end." The boy answered.
"But I want to stay here forever!" she cried.
He responded, "We have no choice."
She asked hopefully, "Maybe there is life after birth?
"How can there be? "he said, "We'll shed our life cord, and life is not possible without it. Besides we have seen evidence that others were here before us and none have ever returned to tell us there is life after birth.
No, this is the end."
Despairing she said, "If everything ends in birth, what is the purpose of life? It's all meaningless! Maybe there is no mother after all?"
"There has to be," he protested. "How else did we get here? how do we remain alive?"
"Have you ever seen our mother?" she asked. "Maybe she lives only in our minds. maybe we just made her up to feel better?"
And so their last days in the womb were filled with fear and deep questioning. Finally the moment of birth arrived. When the twins had passed from their world and OPENED THEIR EYES they were DELIGHTED BEYOND their Wildest Dreams!”—Author unknown. This quote illustrated
“Do not weep for me when I am gone, for I have friends in the great beyond. All the little ones I used to feed, will come to me in my time of need.
They will purr and bark in great delight, and I will hold and hug them tight. Oh what a great day that will be when my furry friends all welcome me.”—Richard Severo
“We who choose to surround ourselves with lives even more temporary than our own live within a fragile circle, easily and often breached.
Unable to accept its awful gaps, we still would live no other way. We cherish memory as the only certain immortality, never fully understanding the necessary plan.”—Irving Townsend from “The Once Again Prince”
“Somewhere—somewhere in time's own space there must be some sweet pastured place, where creeks sing on and tall trees grow, some Paradise where horses go, for by the love that guides my pen I know great horses live again.”—Stanley Harrison
“When I die if you need to weep cry for whatever separates you from anyone you love. And when you need me put your arms around each other and give whatever you need to give or receive from me. I wanted to leave you something, something better than words or sounds. Look for me in those I have known or loved and if you cannot give me to them let me live in your eyes and touch and not in your mind. You can love me most by letting hands touch, by letting heart reach out to heart. And by letting go of anything that makes you unfree to love each other Love doesn't die, we do. So when all that is left of me is love, give me away to each other”— Author unknown
“Do not stand at my grave and weep. I am not there. I do not sleep. I am a thousand winds that blow. I am the diamond glints on snow. I am the sunlight on ripened grain. I am the gentle Autumn's rain. When you awaken in the mornings hush. I am the swift up-flinging rush of quiet birds in circling flight. I am the soft star that shines at night. Do not stand at my grave and cry. I am not there. I did not die.”—Mary Frye
“What is a man without the beasts? If all the beasts were gone, men would die form great loneliness of spirit…”—Chief Seattle
“Never does one feel oneself so utterly helpless as in trying to speak comfort for great bereavement. I will not try it…”—Jane Welsh Carlyle
“If, as I can't help suspecting, the dead also feel the pains of separation (and this may be one of their purgatorial sufferings), then for both lovers, and for all pairs of lovers without exception, bereavement is a universal and integral part of our experience of love.”—C. S. Lewis
“And if I go, while you're still here —know that I still live on vibrating to a different measure behind a thin veil you cannot see through.
You will not see me, so you must have faith. I wait the time when we can soar together again, both aware of each other. Until then, live your life to the fullest. And when you need me, just whisper my name in your heart—I will be there.”—Pauline Hitchcock
“I believe that the loss of a beloved companion animal is like no other loss because our relationships with animals are like no other. Our culture tells us that an animal companion is an engaging toy, and that our grief over its death is alarming and ill-paced. And our culture is just flat wrong. As a survivor of advanced cancer myself, I believe that the love and comfort of animals in great measure graced me with recovery. This being the case, I would not be one to take kindly to any cultural diminishment of our relationship with 'the other.' Bluntly put, 'Them's fightin' words' in my world. Animals are more to us than we know. Their partnership with us is a holy one that endures across a lifetime and possibly beyond.”—Susan Chernak McElroy, in “Grieving the Death of a Pet” by Betty J. Carmack
“If we go to heaven, so do they…because if dogs are not there, it is not heaven.”—Elizabeth Marshall Thomas
“May all beings everywhere plagued with sufferings of body and mind quickly be freed from their pain. May those frightened cease to be afraid, and may those bound be free. May the powerless find power, and may people befriend all life. May those of all species who find themselves lost, the young, the aged, the unprotected, be guarded by beneficent celestials, and may they swiftly attain Buddha hood.”—Buddhist Prayer for Peace This quote on Greeting Card
“The animals of the planet are in desperate peril…without free animal life I believe we will lose the spiritual equivalent of oxygen.”—Alice Walker
“A Robin Redbreast in a cage Puts all Heaven in a Rage.”— William Blake, Auguries of Innocence
“When an unloved creature suffers and dies heaven rages and angels cry.”—Nan Sea Love. This quote on Angel Greeting Card
“I know no greater proof for the existence of a benevolent God, no greater Heaven than holding a purring cat. Those who hunger for love need look no further. God has put opportunities to love and care all around us.”—Nan Sea Love this quote on Greeting Card
“The fate of animals is of greater importance to me than the fear of appearing ridiculous.”—Emile Zola
“The soul is the same in all living creatures, although the body of each is different.”—Hippocrates
“Animals possess a soul and men must love and feel solidarity with our smaller brethren…as near to God as men are.”—His Holiness Pope John Paul II. This quote on Artwork
“ALL beauty is but Art that thou canst not see,
ALL chance direction unknown to thee,
ALL discord harmony misunderstood,
ALL partial evil, Universal Good.”
Some Suggestions to Alleviate Grief from Nan Sea Love
This technique helped me after the loss of my beloved animal friend, Precious. Perhaps it will be helpful to you. Before meditation I held a picture of Precious and talked to the picture as if I were talking to him, feeling all the love I felt for him as I poured my heart out, looking at and kissing his picture. I then meditated as I held the picture close to my heart. I really felt again, for the first time since his death, some of the warm wonderful feelings I had previously only been able to feel in his living presence. I regretted so deeply not having a video of him so i could see his dear little body as it was so full of life. I strongly suggest if you video your beloved while he or she is alive.
I will at a later date share the meditation i had two years later that helped convince me his soul lives on, something my very skeptical rational mind just could not believe prior to that meditation.
Some Suggestions On Euthanasia
Making It the Best Possible Experience
The decision to euthanize is always extremely difficult especially because an animal cannot tell what he or she really needs. No matter how intuitive you are, how much you pride yourself in your ability to communicate with animals, or how certain you are about such concepts as an afterlife, you cannot know for sure what an animal is feeling or what happens to its soul when disconnected from the body. To impose our mere beliefs or what we hope is true on an animal that is at our mercy may result in great, if unintentional, unkindness. I believe even world-renowned wise persons or spiritual leaders could be arrogant if they impose their perception of reality or belief system on beings entirely at our mercy. The Pope, Swami Muktananda, and the greatest leaders of Islam cannot all be accurate about afterlife and the souls of animals. For the animal’s sake we need to be humble in our beliefs.
I wrote the following just one week before our other veterinarian (our home veterinarian was out with an injury) suggested that in my sweet dog friend, Monte's best interest we release him. I knew all day long this was a real possibility. But it was a trip of thirty miles and I was sick. I just wasn't up to going and he seemed better. I have long felt Monte picking up communications from me, and I felt for the first time during or after any death that communication. I spoke to the vet, a really great guy about my concerns about the letting the sedative work long enough and my husband held the phone to Monte's ear as i talked to him—but for once words did come easily. I experienced racking sobs and great sorrow, and for a while intense anger at my life and body for being sick so that I was not physically there with Monte. I hope no one read the following before I qualified this as in this time of grief you don't need one more reason to feel badly. We all do the best we can. If I could have had it different it would be.
In the following i am sharing another personal story or a far more "ideal” euthanasia, (if such a thing can be said of killing someone you love) and experiences in the hope you may find it a helpful guide when your animal friend’s death becomes inevitable. In retrospect I chose to release my beloved Precious a week later than what probably would have been best for him. I loved him so much, yet my need for him blinded me. I kept thinking we would defy the odds—great nutrition and every alternative therapy I could find kept me clinging to a hope for a miracle. I had never been one to cling to anything, and never will again.
Death can cause very unpredictable behavior. Be prepared for this time if at all possible. I wasn't and perhaps caused my beloved unnecessary pain, something I deeply regret. The animal's feelings must always come first, they depend on us to make the best decisions for them, not ourselves. That said, if there is any question about the necessity to euthanize please be careful not to act too quickly either. I know from experience, you may be plagued with that regret also.
If you can get a veterinarian that makes home visits it is much better for the already stressed and ailing animal, especially cats who usually hate cars under the best circumstances. Recently since another one of our animal friends is ill I have interviewed three veterinarians to see when they are available and just how they proceed with euthanization. I asked a lot of questions and only pray when the time comes we will be able to again use Precious’ wonderful veterinarian who was remarkably sensitive (Update we where able to have her administer this sacred rite of passage). One veterinarian I interviewed thought herself kind because she would come to our home, muzzle our dog, and administer an admittedly painful sedative before euthanization! I talked at length to her and could see that was the best she was going to give. No professional likes to be told they are wrong, but you can carefully suggest how you want it done and see what they will agree to, ask lots of questions, ask for details, and don't settle for anything but the best for your loved one, you can do this!
When the time to face the inevitable finally came with Precious I was blessed with a great Sonoma County veterinarian (sorry she wishes to remain anonymous you will have to find another great vet or educate yours). I have experienced two cats deaths before, the first time I saw the poor cat fighting the needle the whole time. The next "mercy killing" I witnessed we requested a sedative, but the veterinarian did not wait long enough for the sedative to take complete hold so poor Sweet Boy’s last moment was not entirely peaceful. I saw the shocked look in his eyes at his last conscious moment. This is someone I love who trusted me. I will never let it happen again.
This is how it should have been: Precious’ last moment on this Earth was peaceful. My vet told me that often one sedative is not enough and you must give it enough time to work; she gently gave the first sedative and patiently waited for twenty to thirty minutes for it to take full effect. During that time she invited me to act as if I were alone and say anything I wanted to Precious. Making myself as peaceful as possible I set aside my own fears and questions to just look into his eyes (cats do pick up our anxiety, currently I administer by needle 50cc of subcutaneous fluid two times a day to one of our kitty friends and when I learned to be peaceful the ordeal transformed for both kitty and me) and poured my love out to him, reassured him he was safe, that there was nothing to be afraid of. After patiently waiting the twenty or more minutes my patient, very caring veterinarian gently administered a second sedative, again letting it work for about twenty or thirty minutes. Precious simply went to sleep and then the final drug was administered. Having seen two previous "mercy killings" this is the best circumstance i know for such an awful experience. Share your transition experiences.
If your animal friend is close to you or someone else try to make sure they are there to help with the transition. For some that will simply be too painful, please, in this very difficult time, accept your and others limitations. Everyone is doing the best they can. Precious’ best friend, a former feral cat named Trust Love stayed close by all through Precious' illness. He stayed in the room during the whole sacred process and with Precious' body for over twelve hours (and did not go back into that room for almost ten months). My vet also said it was very important to show Trust where we were burying Precious, which we did. Trust cried long forlorn kitty cries for months, but we consoled each other, becoming for each other the great love we each had lost. (Update: Both Trust and Precious are now buried next to each other now in our backyard, a Sacred Healing Place under the Redwood. We included cuttings of our hair, precious jewels, writing from our hearts, and other treasures with these so loved bodies. I had formerly thought of a dead body as just a shell, cast off by the Spirit. i do not really understand why these ritualistic behaviors are important for healing, but i know in my heart they are healing, for who i cannot say.
Ten Tips for Getting Through Pet Loss
Very good advice for people coping with pet loss from Moira Anderson Allen, M.Ed.
In Memory of Pets
This beautiful site offers free memorials for pet owners that have lost their beloved, and also beautiful, heart warming poems.
This site offers a cyber shoulder to those who are dealing with grief after the death of a pet, and also offers poems, a pet loss news group, and a message board.
Pet Loss Grief Support Web site
From petloss.com, this site helps to remember your beloved pet. A candle lighting ceremony is held every Monday evening in rembrance.
Recommended reading, Am I Blue? by Alice Walker, Animals and the Afterlife about people who have connected with the spirit of their loved animal after death, and Dead Lady of Clown Town by Cordwainer Smith
DISCLAIMER: Credit has been given whenever the quote source Is known. Any omissions or distortions where found in the source material and will happily be corrected. If your are the author or know a quotes source please contact Nan Sea Love— credit will be giving upon permission to use and/or verification. © Artwork copyright 2006 Nan Sea Love www.nansealove.com All rights reserved. 10% of all profits gratefully given to animal and environmental organizations.
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