Rainbow Bridge Remembrance Day 2020 – Purr Prints of the Heart Blog Hop

Joy. By definition, it’s the emotion of happiness we experience, caused by something exceptionally wonderful or pleasurable to us. Losing a beloved pet is not joyous. The pain associated with the loss and the grief to follow can range from anger to denial, to depression, to a deep, overwhelming feeling of despair and sadness. Time may soften the pain, but it truly never leaves the heart. Despite that, there is joy. It’s just a matter of perspective and how you find it, and with today being Rainbow Bridge Remembrance Day, that’s what I’ll be focusing on.

I’ve lost many pets over the years – cats, dogs, rabbits, guinea pigs, fish, hamsters, frogs, and more – and each loss was unique to the relationship I shared with the pet. Some losses, while never easy, I could understand. A senior pet who had passed on after a long and happy life like my precious cat, Kit, at the age of 15. Or a pet who had an illness in which the quality of life was greatly compromised, like my beloved Golden Retriever Bailey who I had to let go, debilitated by cancer.

Kit back in my college days helping me write a term paper. Anyone else remember when having a word processor was an amazing bit of technology?

Bailey was a true retriever and always had a ball or toy in her mouth!

But some losses were unexpected and brutally tragic, making the grief nearly unbearable, as the opportunity to say goodbye was taken from me, like my beautiful tortie, Harley who I had to make the split-second decision to let go after complications from a seizure. Those losses are nearly impossible to comprehend and reconcile, making emotional healing a great burden to the heart and soul. But now, as time has gone by, especially in this crazy, stressful world of ours, I want to remember the joy. I’m ready to remember the joy because regardless of the circumstances, the happy times and the happy memories of the pet are always in your heart if you’re willing to look past the loss and back to those wonderful moments that gave you a reason to smile or laugh, or that that brightened your day.

It’s not something everyone can do. I couldn’t always do it. Grief walks its own path and we have to do what feels right for us at the moment we’re living in. Maybe you don’t have the mental fortitude to find the joy today and that’s okay. For me, I’m finally ready to embrace the happiness of all my losses. The joy of shared companionship. Of the non-judgemental love and loyalty.

Harley was a Rubenesque cat and always loved to show off her fluffy and ample belly!

The happiness felt from a long day at work and coming home to a wagging tail, or barks, or meows of greeting, “Yay! My human is home!” Snuggling on the couch with a cat on my lap, for endless hours, even when I desperately need a bathroom break, because the shared moment was so special. Or enjoying an evening walk with my dog, finding pleasure in watching his excitement in spotting a squirrel in someone’s yard, or a stick on the street to pick up and proudly carry in his mouth the rest of the walk.

Bandit celebrating one of his many birthdays! He was always such a good sport with us putting hats on him for our pleasure!

As a German Shepperd, Bo was the ultimate protector of his humans, but he also had time for silliness, too!

Those are memories of so many of my pets that are now living in my heart. Those endless memories of joyful moments, none of them truly spectacular, but just the simple joys one experiences from the human-animal bond and those are the pictures I’m sharing today. Pictures of my sweet babies that cause me to smile, remembering the silliness of the moment.

Friday could have napped anywhere, but tucked on a too-small chair atop a baseball mitt was his preference.

Shami enjoying a peek-a-boo moment from the laundry hamper!

In the years to come, there will be more pictures to share. I’m not looking forward to it. I wish time could stand still because when we have to say goodbye, the moment is crushing, causing one to wonder why you would allow yourself a pet if the pain of saying goodbye is part of the package because it is part of the package. Our pets share but a brief moment of time with us in the scheme of life, but it is worth the pain. The happiness and joy far outweigh the pain and that’s why we open our hearts and homes to a pet time and time again.

My founding Rainbow Bridge Remembrance Day in 2015 came from that pain as a way to find the love, beauty, and dignity in saying goodbye to Jazz, my Ragdoll cat I had to make the difficult decision to let go of on August 28, 2013. I shared the journey of his life and death and my relationship with him in the book I wrote, Purr Prints of – A Cat’s Tale of Life, Death, and Beyond, with the day created in his honor as a way for others across the world to share memories of their own pets they had loved and lost.

Jazz mimicking the plush leopard he’s sleeping on!

I never really considered the full ramifications of the day back then. I created it out of love, expecting nothing in return. But the day has turned into something quite significant as people open up their hearts and share memories, pictures, videos, and so much more in memory of a pet. Local news stations have picked up the event, radio stations, and many communities even hold memory vigils. All of it touches my heart and that’s what I get in return – the joy in seeing an outpouring of love, compassion, and kindness from people of every walk of life, across the world.

I say it every year, and I’ll say it again now. The day is not meant to be sad, although sadness cannot be avoided. I do my fair share of crying every year, it’s impossible not to, but the day at its root is really meant to be a celebration of the love and joy of the pet – a day for the entire world, regardless of race, religion, sex, economic status, and everything in-between to come together. One does not even have to believe in the Rainbow Bridge to participate. The day comes from the heart without any agenda or expectations from those that chose to participate other than love.

My sweet Scrubby, she was born with only one eye and the other disfigured, but she was my love and taught me to see the good in all around me.

So, stay safe, and thank you to all who participate. And remember to live in the now, too. For those times that might frustrate you – scooping the litter box endless times, cleaning up a hairball you’ve just stepped in, walking the dog even though your exhausted – one day those moments will be gone, so cherish you have them if you have pets in your life now. Be kind to yourself, and be kind to one another, because, in the end, that’s all any of us really wants, is to be loved, cared for, and respected.

R.I.P. my beautiful, precious angels. I love and miss you all so much.


Lastly, for any of you either looking for a personal way to help someone through the grieving process, or if you need help yourself with grieving, please consider reading Purr Prints of the Heart – A Cat’s Tale of Life, Death, and Beyond. While clinical, self-help books on grieving serve a great purpose, sometimes a true-life experience that someone can directly relate to is the best way to help a person process their feelings, so they don’t feel so alone in the complex range of emotions they are experiencing. Purr Prints is a warm, spirited, and poignant tale written in the meow voice of Mr. Jazz that has touched the hearts of those who have read it. Please visit our books page for information on how to order the book, including options for personalization for those who would like the book autographed in tribute to a lost pet.

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  1. I agree, with time we learn to remember all of the good times, but the pain never truly goes. Sometimes even now when I am looking through my photos a memory comes back so strongly that once again I feel that awful gut wrenching loss. It feels like part of me is being ripped out all over again and the tears come again. Other days I remember all the happy times we had walking around the fields together. They loved the freedom of their walks, and so did I.

    • Deb says:

      I know what you mean, Memories of Eric and Flynn. For me, it’s my dog Bailey that causes the most pain when a memory pops up. To this day, it’s still incredibly difficult for me to see a Golden Retriever, the loss of Bailey becomes so fresh in my mind. Thank you for stopping by and for sharing some happy times.

  2. Thank you for sharing your angels. I don’t talk much about Kitty, but she’s on my mind every day – especially this year.

  3. Madison says:

    That old computer from college is a priceless photo! You have several great photos for remembering those loved furry ones you have lost. Thank you for holding this event! Hugs to you.

    • Deb says:

      Thank you for stopping by, Madison. I love that picture, too. Back then, I thought having that word processer was amazing…who would have ever dreamed how far the internet and computers would evolve.

  4. George Beach says:

    What a great read and message, Deb! You are an amazing and wonderful person! So glad to have connected with you so many years after walking the halls of IHS!

    • Deb says:

      Thank you, George! I don’t think I could have ever imagined back in our high school days that this is where I’d be today! And I love that we can still connect…social media does have its benefits!

  5. What beautiful memories you have of those furbabies that are no longer here. I’m still struggling with the loss of Wally…but at least now I can look at photos of him and not break into tears.

  6. Brian Frum says:

    Thanks for the special day Deb, this is the first year we’ve participated, it always hurt to much but now it seems like the right time.

  7. Dear Deb: What a beautiful Rainbow Bridge post you’ve done. I can literally ‘FEEL’ all the love you had for all you fur babies!! Jazz was a very beautiful cat…there’s something about a Siamese….
    Thank you for sharing so many lovely memories of your beloved 4 leggeds.
    May all your memories bring comfort to you as you reflect & remember
    Bailey, Bo, Scrubby, Shami (I DO remember Sham), Jazz & all your furbabies are looking down on you with love every day.
    (((hugs))) Sherri-Ellen & gentle **purrss** BellaDharma

  8. Our missing friends live forever in our hearts.
    Hugs and purrs on this special remembrance day.

  9. Charles Huss says:

    Loss is difficult but you have so many good memories. I agree that it is even more difficult when it is unexpected. Our last loss was Puck who died suddenly at a fairly young age.

  10. Timmy Tomcat says:

    Thank you so much for this special day where we remember those who will forever be in our hearts. We remember them every day but this really helps to think about those who have given our lives such joy. We will meet again dear friends of that I am sure
    Timmy, Dad, Toby, Rumpy Bumpy, Miss Fitz and Einstein

  11. jmuhj says:

    In our family, cats ARE family, never “pets” and never “owned.” Having just had to say farewell to our beloved torti, Tarifa, very unexpectedly due to SCC on the 17th, we are all dealing with the grief of parting, temporarily and physically, from someone very beloved. It is extremely painful, but along with the pain, I feel great joy. I am so grateful that, out of all the people on earth, I was the one to be the caregiver to one of the sweetest, kindest, friendliest, most social, silliest and most beautiful of all beings ever to pad this planet. She was with me for just over 17 years, and joined our family as an 11 months kitten.

    I celebrate her life and look forward to us all being together at the Bridge in due time.

  12. Anita Aurit says:

    Such beautiful fur kids and such beautiful memories.

  13. Hi Guys!
    We love your post today. Pets er…fur babies and siblings, have been an important part of my life since I was born. My parents LOVED animals. Some have had a major impact on my life. Most recently that has been Queen Penelope, the Cat From Hell. We are celebrating her today! Thanks so much for giving us this opportunity to share!
    Marv, Jo Jo, Kozmo, Cinnamon and Angel Nellie

  14. Catwoods says:

    Thank you for creating this day, Deb, and for this lovely tribute that celebrates the happy times.

  15. Cathy Keisha says:

    *bows head* as I remember your losses. Loss is a part of life that’s not enjoyable. Still loss enables others cats to find their new forever homes. Grief is just love with nowhere to go. Losing my furrend Herbie hurts so much but knowing that Hervie now has a forever home even though he’s a special needs cat with many challenges makes me joyful.

  16. Ann Adamus says:

    Thank you, Deb for hosting this wonderful and very special day and event. And thank you for sharing your story of the wonderful pets who have filled your life with love and joy. Though never with us long enough, our memories of times shared stays on in our hearts forever.

  17. As you’ve said, this day is very emotional. I’ve experienced sadness when I remember losing my special furry companions, but I also experience happiness when I think back on the joys of sharing my life with my pets. Thank you for hosting this special day.

  18. Thank you so much for your faithfulness in creating and hosting this event Deb.

    This is my first time participating as my grief from the sudden loss of Legend has been so raw these past five years but this time round, the loss of Tsunami after his protracted decline has found me in a different emotional place and I welcome the opportunity to share his life and hopefully find some closure as I work towards moving past yet another loss.

    Loss is hard, but I am reminded as I read your moving post that this experience is so painful because of all of the joy that our precious pets have brought us – of the incredible impact that they have had on our lives (and we have had on theirs).

    Thanks for all that you continue to do. You are one of my very first cat blogging friends from back in the day and I always look forward to reading your posts.


  19. Ellen Pilch says:

    Beautiful tribute to all your angels. Thank you for coming up with a day to remember all those still in our hearts. XO

  20. Beautiful tribute to your beloved Angels ♥ It’s never easy to write about them, nor see a picture of them, it doesn’t matter how long ago, but after the tears comes a smile and vice versa, that’s the way it is. You have made a wonderful place to remember all our furry members of the family, so we can share our feelings with like-minded peeps. Thank you for that, Deb ♥ Pawkisses for a Joyful Day 🐾😽💞