Diploma in Pet Bereavement
The Blackford Centre
Coping with Pet loss
The ‘Rainbow Bridge’ Poem
The Rainbow Bridge poem is a beautiful lament about the death of loved animals.
The poem says that pets go to another place when they die. The pets are safe and happy there, until eventually they are reunited with their owners.
Mystery surrounds the poem. It was written some time in the 1980s by an unknown writer, and has become increasingly relevant ever since. This is because the power of the idea, and because of the solace it brings to bereaved people.
The Rainbow Bridge poem has a story to tell. It asks us to imagine a green meadow which leads to the Rainbow Bridge that connects earth with heaven.
After they die, pets live in the green meadow. They play and run and are happy in their new abode.
Pets that live on the other side of the rainbow bridge are finally free from hurt and pain, and they experience no trauma or fear.
Even though the pets are always at peace in this meadow home, they miss their owners and long to be united with them again.
After the owners die, they too come cross the Rainbow Bridge. In that instant the pets stop what they’re doing and sniff the air for signs of recognition and familiarity. When the pets see their owners standing at a distance, they happily run towards them and leap into their arms, licking their faces with joy.
Owners who missed their pets on earth but always carried their memories in their hearts, hug their beloved pets and express similar joy.
Then both the owners and the pets, side by side, cross the Rainbow Bridge and enter heaven together. There they’re never divided and live happily for the rest of time.
Origins of the Rainbow Bridge poem
This piece of poetic prose became so popular that it started being circulated around the globe, while the original authorship of the poem was lost and became uncertain.
However, it is believed that one of three authors published this poem for the first time. Paul C. Dahm, who was also a grief counselor, is believed to have written this poem first in 1981. He later published a book in 1998 under the same name.
William N. Britton and Dr. Wallace Sife are two other authors who wrote books and poems revolving around the theme of the Rainbow Bridge.
After the concept of the rainbow poem became popular worldwide, many other similar poems were written, which helped pet owners relate their loss.
Writing poems quickly became an expression of grief as pet owners poured their feelings on paper. Pet bereavement poems helped many people deal with their hurt and anger and cope with feelings of loss. This is still a popular method, recommended by many therapists to pet owners, for expressing their grief and starting a journey towards the acceptance of loss.
Here is the text of the poem:
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.
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