If you are dealing with the death of a dog, here is the Rainbow Bridge Poem. There's also a great poem by Khalil Gibran that helps me immensely. Maybe I can help you with my own story as well...
The longest and shortest moment of my life was waking up to find my dog died in the middle of the night.
My Lily. My sidekick. Someone who actually thought I was the end all, be all. And someone who taught me a dog can love you without being cuddly.
I'd tried to stay awake all night to be with her. I could see in her eyes she was ready to leave and I knew a vet couldn't save her.
I thought about the Rainbow Bridge Poem.
I didn't have to tell her I loved her. She knew. I told her anyway.
At 4:00am I fell asleep with my hand on her paw.
The funny thing about death is it's something we all have to do. I
don't fear it for myself and I actually wanted her to go so she could
relax. No more struggles to stay by my side. I wanted that for her.
And then the minute I opened my eyes and knew she was gone, I wanted her back. I knew that was a selfish thought but my heart hurt so badly.
Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.
When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that 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 our pets 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 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 intent; Her eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him 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 the trusting eyes of your dog, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.
Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together....
The dogs handled it better than I. Her buddy Moo, who largely ignores me, spent days clinging to me and laying on my feet. After a few weeks he was ready to move on.
I looked at the Rainbow Bridge Poem for comfort, but that's for
later. Now I needed the poem about Joy and Sorrow by Khalil Gibran (1883
- 1931). Perhaps it will help you too. Yes, it makes me cry but it also explains why we grieve so much.
If you don't appreciate this type of writing, please jump to the section which I italicized because it is so true and helps grieving make sense.
Then a woman said, "Speak to us of Joy and Sorrow."
And he answered:
Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.
And how else can it be?
The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.
Is not the cup that hold your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter's oven?
And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives?
When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find
it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.
When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.
Some of you say, "Joy is greater than sorrow," and others say, "Nay, sorrow is the greater."
But I say unto you, they are inseparable.
Together they come, and when one sits alone with you at your board, remember that the other is asleep upon your bed.
Verily you are suspended like scales between your sorrow and your joy.
Only when you are empty are you at standstill and balanced.
When the treasure-keeper lifts you to weigh his gold and his silver, needs must your joy or your sorrow rise or fall.
So, it was time for sorrow, grief and tears to fill many moments of many hours of many days. Joy would return. It always does if you let it. Grieving is a natural process and the rainbow bridge poem helps.
I've been lucky. I've been blessed by the love of family,
friends, dogs, cats, ferrets and I even have a sneaky suspicion about a
ten foot snake my husband rescued. Those that came before Lily and those I have yet to meet and love.
After a time I will think of the Rainbow Bridge Poem and seeing Lily again. I'll cherish the good memories and even the stuff that drove me nuts. The loud thump of the trash can falling over or the snoring that woke me many nights.
I'll realize I no longer have to keep the bathroom door closed, hide the toilet paper or paper towels and never again will I walk into the kitchen and say "Lily, where's the tomato I left on the counter?" and see her spit out the stem as if on cue while her nubby tail is wagging at me.
Now Lily is okay. It's just going to take time for the rest of us.
* * *
It's been several months since Lily's death. I still miss her and think of her every day. Now though, I can smile about the joy she brought me and feel good when I think of the rainbow bridge poem.
The reason I came back to add to this page is twofold. First there was a huge change in my life where once again I was confronted with losing a dog, not through death but the D word ...divorce. You'll have to read it to see why it was so difficult.
While learning to live with that loss, there was another dog death in the family.
I share the story of losing my son's dog with you at Dog Memorial, The Life and Death of Kurby. The story celebrates the life of a wonderful dog with pictures (he dressed up on occasion) that make everyone smile; the perseverance and total love between human and dog and finally having to say goodbye.
And since I no longer live in the home where I buried my Lily part of me feels I left her behind.
Life can be hard and I hope by sharing my stories, you don't feel so alone in your grief. Many of us feel like you do.
Also if you've been through this before you probably know the grief of losing a dog is compounded because we grieve all over again
for our past losses. It's okay. It's normal, and the rainbow bridge
poem is a reminder that this isn't really the end of the story.
Some people who I've talked to about the loss of a dog, say they will never have another because the pain of loss is too great, while others get a puppy to fill the void.
For myself, neither of these will work. I can't imagine life without dogs and there are so many dogs in shelters and rescues who deserve a good life. What if I could make a difference for an older dog? Now that would be something to be proud of in addition to a happy grateful dog.
That is where I'll go when the time is right. But first I have to heal, and the Rainbow Bridge poem helps.
If you are grieving and having a tough time coping, check out the eBook for sale on this page in the right hand column.
If you'd like to read stories about some of my other dogs, they too are in the right column and may tug on your heartstrings a bit. Those stories are about life and not death; except for one which is called The Throw Away Dog. It's a true story that will move you.
Death is always hard to deal with and sometimes we are closer to our pets than our family members. After all, they never judged us. Just loved us no matter what; and they don't want us to suffer either.
When my time comes, I hope someone thinks of the Rainbow Bridge Poem and laughs because there may be a party there with me the guest of honor. Would that be cool or what?
And here's a little secret. I wrote a short poem about Rainbow Bridge quite some time ago and now I think it's time to share it. I simply called it Rainbow Bridge Poem Two.
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