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What Does “Crossing the Rainbow Bridge” Mean for Pets?

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By Nicole Cosgrove

dog grave

The term “crossing the rainbow bridge” comes from a poem — or more accurately, from multiple variations of a poem about losing a pet and reuniting with them in the afterlife. Three different people have taken credit for writing the original poem that inspired the rainbow bridge frame of mind among pet owners. The term and the variations of the poem started becoming popular among pet owners in the 1980s, but there is no definitive answer as to when and where the idea actually originated.

Crossing the rainbow bridge means that your pet has passed away. When you eventually die, your pet will cross the rainbow bridge to Heaven with you.

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What Does Crossing the Rainbow Bridge Mean?

The idea is that both pet and owner will reunite after death and cross over the rainbow bridge into Heaven together, where they can live together forever with other loved ones. When a beloved pet of any kind passes away, they go to a place with green pastures, rolling hills, and warm sunshine, where plenty of water and food can be found. They run and play with the other animals who have passed away without a worry in the world — except missing the humans they left behind.

But one day, when it is time for their human counterpart to pass over, a beloved pet catches a glimpse of their loved one and runs to reunite once and for all. Together, humans and animals cross over the rainbow bridge into Heaven where they will never have to part again. The idea of crossing the rainbow bridge helps to give comfort and peace of mind to those who are grieving their much-loved pets.

The rainbow bridge is an idea, not a religion or a fact. It is offered as a coping mechanism and is shared between pet owners as a show of hope and goodwill. The rainbow bridge brings pet-loving communities together and reinforces the notion that pets aren’t disposable. They’re a big part of our lives and deserve the same respect and remembrance that our human loved ones do.

The idea of crossing the rainbow bridge can help any pet owner deal with their grief. After all, losing a pet can hurt just as bad — if not worse — than losing a human companion or loved one. It makes sense that we have a common idea of how to deal with the loss of a pet. It makes us feel not so alone when the time comes for our pet to leave our lives, at least for now.

black labradinger running
Image credit: Andrew Goodsell, Shutterstock

The 3 Other Ways to Cope with the Loss of a Pet

The idea of crossing the rainbow bridge is a good start when it comes to grieving the loss of a pet. Thinking about being together again in another life can help relieve some of the pain of losing such an integral part of our lives. However, there are other ways to cope with the loss of a pet.

1. Reach Out to Friends and Family Members

It might seem embarrassing to let other people know how much you miss your pet, but friends and family can be an awesome support system for you as you work through your grief and create a different life for yourself. Of course, there will be a missing link in your day-to-day-life, and friends and family can help fill that missing link. Your friends and family members will understand that you’re in pain and will do what they can to support you. They give you camaraderie when you’re feeling alone. They can also provide you with distractions that will help you get through your days as you adjust to life without your beloved pet.

2. Switch Up Your Daily Routine

Life without your pet can seem empty if you keep going about your normal routine because you’ll miss the parts that can’t be fulfilled due to the loss of your furry loved one. For this reason, it’s a good idea to switch up your daily routine. Exercise after waking up instead of walking your dog. Ask friends and family over for lunch and dinner more often to mix things up. Stay up a little later and sleep in a little more to jumble your schedule a little bit.

The more you switch your schedule up, the less time you’ll remind yourself of missing your furry companion. Just because you’re not sitting around mourning your pet as deeply doesn’t mean that you’re forgetting about them. They’ll understand your need for extra human companionship!

dog adoption
Image credit: tonyfortku, Pixabay

3. Consider Adopting Another Pet

Even though your heart feels broken after losing a pet, your heart is huge and has room for more love. One effective way to grieve your lost pet is to adopt a new pet in their honor. Getting a new pet will help fill your lonely times with love and acceptance. Knowing that you’re adopting your new pet in honor of your lost one will give you the peace of mind that you’re continuing their memory in some way for all to see, experience, and enjoy.

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Crossing the Rainbow Bridge: Final Thoughts

It’s tough to lose a pet. They encompass such a large part of our lives that it’s tough to imagine living without them. When the time comes, we must reconsider how we’re living, what we are doing, and what we’re feeling. The idea of them crossing the rainbow bridge gives us hope and inspiration and allows us to open up our hearts to cats, dogs, ferrets, bunnies, mice, and other pets that we would love to share our lives with while still honoring the memories of pets past — with the hope of meeting those past pets again one day in the afterlife.

See Also: 8 Interesting Poems About Dogs You Need to Hear!

Featured Image Credit: GAIMARD, Pixabay

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