Have you ever heard the term, “crossing the rainbow bridge?” It’s mostly used to refer to the death of a beloved pet, and it first started popping up sometime around the 1980s.
The term’s origins can be traced to one of several poems with the same name. Although three separate people claim authorship of the poem, its exact origin is still debated and there are dozens of versions still being used today. Here’s one of the most common:
The Rainbow Bridge
There is a bridge connecting Heaven and Earth.
It is called the Rainbow Bridge because of all its beautiful colors.
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
Then you cross the Rainbow Bridge together never again to be apart.
Changing the Way We See Pet Loss
In the last decade, society as a whole has started taking bereavement over the death of a pet more seriously. Study after study shows that pet parents feel the loss of a pet as acutely as the loss of a human being. And unfortunately, because societal norms may make those mourning a pet feel embarrassed or dramatic about their emotions, it’s still often a very private struggle.
The good news is, the perception of pet loss is changing! There are myriad resources now available to help pet parents through their grief and bereavement, and veterinarians are becoming more and more experienced each year when it comes to comforting their patients’ human counterparts.