Is the Rainbow Bridge Real? Where do our pets go when they pass on?
The Rainbow Bridge is a beautiful idea. People have made this imaginary bridge a place where we will be re-united with our pets. Some write some truly beautiful poems on the various Rainbow Bridge sites on the Internet and I do believe it helps some deal with the loss of their pet.
Grief is an inevitable part of life and losing a cherished pet can be just as devastating as losing a person you love dearly. The love you receive from a pet is such a special gift. They love you unconditionally and we can feel safe loving them the same way since we aren't as afraid of running the same risk we do when loving a person. Your pet can't hurt you the same way a person could. Some people are so afraid of being hurt, they shy away from all kinds of relationships just to avoid that pain. So many turn to an animal knowing that that love is safer. A dog, cat, bird, or any pet, can show you so much love just with their exuberant greetings. But, loving a pet can also bring pain.
Sadly, the day will come when we lose our pet, a beloved member of the family. The pain can feel like it is tearing you apart. What can make this even more difficult is having to make the decision of whether to let go now of a sick or aging animal. When is the right time? Is he in pain? Could it get better? How can I possibly do this? This is the time to be strong for them and do what is right for them. It will never be easy and a lot of people tell themselves they will never go through that again. And some won't.
What can help and what we need to do is to realize losing a pet can be as painful to some as losing a spouse or even a child. There will be those that don't understand that and explaining it won't change it. Whether understood by family and friends or not, we need to grieve and we have to go through all the steps one would as if it were a person you loved very much and lost.
Elizabeth Kubler Ross wrote an excellent book on grieving called “On Death and Dying ”. In the book, she lists the 5 stages of grief we go through. The stages are commonly called DABDA as each stage begins with that letter.
Denial: "Why me? This can't be happening."
Anger: "It's not fair!
Bargaining: "I'll do anything for a few more years."
Depression: "Why bother with anything?"
Acceptance: "It's going to be OK."
We go through these stages whenever we grieve. The bottom line is that you are in pain over a very significant loss, whether it is a person or a pet, you need to grieve that relationship. Depression tends to last the longest of the five stages and may be the most difficult to overcome. It was the hardest part for me.
After losing my extremely loving dog who was only 7 years old, I would wake up and realize he wasn't here and just getting out of bed required a monumental effort. I also have a parrot and he was grieving so much he refused to eat and I really thought I would lose him as well. These pets were my life. I'm disabled and both of them helped me in so many ways each day. They made me want to go on, to try to do more things. After the death of my dog, my parrot and I turned to each other more and although we grieved differently, we both still really grieved.
For some people, their faith can help them through it, especially if they believe they will see their loved one again. But do our pets go to Heaven? Will we see them again? Sometimes, some people are told there is no mention in the Bible of animals going to Heaven. A friend had even asked her Pastor to pray for her sick dog and was told no, they don't pray for pets. It sounds cruel but the Pastor was trying to say a pet doesn't have a soul and one reason we go to heaven is because people do have a soul. How can we be so sure? God created the pets and their incredible gift of giving love, why couldn't we pray for a creation of God's to do better? Does this mean we won't be reunited with our beloved pets if we do go to Heaven? God has given us these incredibly loving relationships and I just don't believe He would allow us to know such a pure love only to lose it completely.
The Evangelist Billy Graham said it best, he commented that 'God loves you so much and because He does love you, He wants you to be happy. If having your pet with you makes you happy, God will make sure you will be reunited.' I have no doubt God has already created the most beautiful Rainbow Bridge we will ever see.