Excerpts from Rainbows & Bridges: An Animal Companion
Memorial Kit by Allen and Linda Anderson.
Copyright 2005. All Rights
Table of Contents
partners in grieving You have history You have friends who understand
The Rainbow Bridge Rainbows and bridges How this book is designed
Chapter One: Rainbow
Organic grieving Phases of organic grieving Shock, doubt,
and denial Anger, confusion, resentment, and blame Guilt, bargaining, and
regret What to do with regrets and guilt Meditation Sadness and
depression Meditation Relief, resignation, and acceptance Try this
Chapter Two: Rainbow Red
was this animal to you? Try this exercise The day you met Meditation
Daily-life memories Try this exercise Prior to the passing
Remembering the moment of death Try this exercise Meditation How to
remember your animal companion's death Try this exercise
Chapter Three: Rainbow Yellow
this exercise Our personal beliefs about animals, souls, and death
Meditation Yellow is the spiritual nature of animals at death
Meditation Prana's contract of love
Chapter Four: Covered Bridges
and friends Try this exercise Seeking professional, online, or group
support Consoling the surviving animals in a multiple-pet family
Children and pet loss Meditation
Chapter Five: Swinging Bridges
Recognizing what is missing now Try this exercise Letting go
of anger How to handle a disagreement with your religion's beliefs
Meditation Rituals to help you mourn Try this exercise Lasting
tributes to your animal companion Meditation
Chapter Six: Memorial Bridges
it simple I Remember You memorial service All God's Creatures memorial
service Together Again memorial service Include the other
Chapter Seven: Golden Bridges
Afterlife visitations by animals Communicating with animals
after their death Try this exercise Spiritual plane animal advocates
Meditation Dreams of animals who have died Try this exercise Grief
gauges Try this exercise Getting back into the rhythms of life How
do you know when you're ready to adopt another pet? Try this exercise Do
animals reincarnate? Meditation
About Allen and
Excerpt from Introduction, Rainbows & Bridges by Allen
and Linda Anderson.
Friend, who gave and comforted, who knew
So overwell the want of heart and
Where may I turn for solace now, or find
Relief from this unceasing
loss of you?
-- Theodosia Garrison, "The Closed Door"
line: It hurts like crazy. And hardly anybody understands. Family, friends,
coworkers sympathized. For a while. But they expected that you would be over it
by now. Maybe they found a day or even a week of grieving to be acceptable. But
after all, this was only a pet. Why are you still moping around? Why don't you
get another one? Why don't you get a life?
ingest their words or their silent disapproval like vials of poison to your
self-esteem. You wonder if they could be right. Are you a hopeless, codependent,
overly romantic, anthropomorphizing weakling? Why do you mourn the loss of your
animal companion more than any other loss in your life? How can this bereavement
cause such emptiness, grayness, and sheer torture? You feel foolish. You are
embarrassed. You don't want to admit the magnitude, intensity, or tenacity of
your pain. You are tempted to suck it in, shove it under, seal it
yearn for a gentle paw to touch your cheek, a sweet chirping to greet each day,
an exercise buddy to pad along beside you, or penetrating eyes with childlike
innocence to watch your every movement - just one more time.
Despite the lack of understanding from others, you realize that the
life and death of your animal companion must not - will not - be forgotten. The
brilliant light that illuminated the darkest corners of your life has to be
honored. You have lost a way of living as well as a dear friend. And it may be
one of the most debilitating losses you have ever experienced.
Besides, you are a person who gives credit where credit is due. You
long to acknowledge that an animal companion brought love, joy, comfort,
tolerance, respect, balance, companionship, and meaning to your life in ways
that are unique, admirable, and worthy of remembering.
you are ready to read this book.
Excerpt from Rainbows & Bridges by Allen and Linda
this side of Heaven is a place called the Rainbow Bridge.
an animal dies who has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to
the 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 and water and
sunshine, and our friends 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.
animals are happy and contented, except for one small thing: they miss someone
very special to them who had to be left behind.
all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks
into the distance. The bright eyes are intent; the eager body quivers. Suddenly
he begins to break away 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 pet, so long
gone from your life but never absent from your heart.
you cross the Rainbow Bridge together..
Excerpt from Rainbows & Bridges by Allen and Linda
What to Do with Regrets and Guilt
matter how you look at it, whether you chose to end your animal companion's
suffering or prolong his life, you're likely to regret something. And what if
later you realize that you didn't do everything possible to keep your pet alive
and healthy? Perhaps you have more information now than you did when you decided
to opt for euthanasia. Or perhaps you're looking back at a previous stage of
your life and wondering, "What was I thinking?"
sixty-year-old woman named Barbara wrote to us about a moral dilemma she faced
years ago. The decision she made had filled her with regret, and she longed to
ease her guilt. Barbara said that after her husband of twenty-three years died
of brain cancer, Mouse, her Chihuahua, had brought her great comfort in the
lonely weeks after her husband passed.
later, Barbara met a man with whom she fell in love. She moved into his house.
And that's when the trouble began. The man told her that he didn't want to have
a dog in his home. Barbara wrote, "In a moment of desperation and because I was
trying to please this man, I took Mouse to the Humane Society. I would not have
given up Mouse for any other person. When I returned home, he was angry about
what I did because he felt guilty. I was heartbroken. The man had such mood
swings that I thought [if I retrieved Mouse], he would change his mind, and I'd
have to go through this again if he said Mouse had to go. Also, Mouse wasn't
happy around the man. So I did not go back to get her from the Humane Society.
The dog was a popular breed, and I hoped she would be adopted right
Barbara realized that this man was very selfish and she ended her relationship
with him. But Mouse was gone. She wrote, "I can still see that dog turning
around to look at me when the intake person from the Humane Society took her
away. I asked him to call me if they could not find a good home for Mouse. He
said that they were not going to call. He advised that if I wanted to keep the
dog, I should take her back now. I didn't check to see if Mouse had been
adopted. Now, I live my life with regret over the decision to send Mouse away. I
do not know what I was thinking back then." Barbara has been filled with remorse
ever since. She phrased her desperation this way: "I need absolution and I don't
know where to get it. I don't know how I could have been so stupid. How do I get
rid of this pain?"
we published Barbara's letter in Angel Animals Story of the Week, readers from
around the world came through with affirming and compassionate responses that
may help ease your own burdens of guilt and regret.
Tousley, a bereavement counselor, congratulated Barbara for having the courage
to share her guilt about Mouse with the rest of the newsletter readers. Marty
suggested that Mouse had, in a sense, given her life to protect Barbara. The dog
had enabled Barbara to see what a selfish man she was involved with and how
destructive their relationship was. She wrote, "Mouse became your guardian
angel, and I'm sure she's somewhere out there watching over you
situation similar to Barbara's, Carol gave up her two twelve-year-old cats. When
she visited the University of Minnesota's Arboretum in Chanhassen, Carol was
able to heal with the help of a wandering golden tabby who looked like one of
her previous cats. Carol wrote, "The cat fearlessly sat in my lap in that cold
autumn weather and let me hold and pet him for over an hour. I felt as if I was
being given a blessing of love by this cat that allowed me to forgive
the kindness and understanding our readers expressed, Barbara wrote back to
thank them. We published her letter in the next newsletter. She wrote, "I guess
it's true that we usually punish ourselves far more than others
Animals and the Afterlife, author Kim Sheridan writes, "When guilt is justified,
it's important to honor the guilt, learn from it, and vow to do things
differently the next time we're faced with a similar situation. However, once
we've acknowledged the guilt and truly learned from it, it's time to release the
guilt and move forward. Usually there's a lesson in it so that we can make
better decisions in the future, or else the tragedy is turned around by becoming
a catalyst for something positive. We always get a chance to 'make things right'
in the end."
Following are ways to move beyond guilt, regret, and the need to
keep trying to strike bargains with powers outside yourself.
1. Forgive yourself. Remember how much you loved your animal
companion. Know that you would never have done anything to hurt her. Think about
what your pet would say to you and offer those words of forgiveness and
compassion to yourself.
2. Talk about your regrets and guilt with someone who will not
judge you. Choose your listeners carefully and let out all the pain, doubts, and
confusion surrounding the loss until you start to realize that you did all you
could or knew to do at the time.
3. Write about your feelings of guilt and regret. Write to your pet
and tell him that you're sorry for what you did or did not do for him. Tell your
story. If you are justified in having regrets, write a letter to a pet
publication or a Web site that accepts such stories. Educate others with what
you have learned and would do differently.
4. Give yourself thirty minutes of self-judgment. Rita Reynolds in
Blessing the Bridge writes, "When I've laid my cards on the table, so to speak,
I give myself exactly thirty minutes to sort them out. During this time I can
berate myself, forgive myself, allow myself to be absolutely wretched and
self-pitying. It is important to bring all those feelings up into the light.
After that, it's time to let them go. If, after thirty minutes, I haven't
completely resolved my guilt, I simply ask forgiveness of myself. Then, with as
much calmness and clarity as possible, I turn within to my own center and ask
for help and guidance."
you reflect upon the circumstances of your animal companion's death and forgive
yourself? What would your pet say now that might make you feel better about your