Rainbow Bridge Remembrance Day 2021 – Purr Prints of the Heart Blog Hop

Today is Rainbow Bridge Remembrance Day and as the founder of the day, I’d like to invite a frank discussion. I founded the day on August 28, 2015, in honor of my angel cat Jazz, in large part because of the outpouring of comments and personal messages from friends, strangers, bloggers, writers, and everything in between who voiced their desire to have a place to share their feelings about pet loss after I shared Jazz’s end-of-life journey when he passed on August 28, 2013, and subsequently wrote his memoir Purr Prints of the Heart – A Cat’s Tale of Life, Death, and Beyond. The day was created with love, with all the best intentions and I didn’t think it would go too far, other than within my cat blogging/writing circle of friends.

Somehow, the day caught wind and over the years became a worldwide event and I was proud and honored to be part of something that brought pet-loving people together in love and comfort. Some cities held candlelight vigils for the whole community. The day has inspired songs, it’s inspired beautiful, heartfelt posts as well as heartfelt radio conversation. It’s also inspired poignant videos, graphics, and photos. Despite that, I’ve also come to learn promoting the concept of the Rainbow Bridge is not necessarily held with universal acceptance by all, and I can understand and respect that.

The poem, written in the 1980s, origin unknown, goes like this according to RainbowBridge.com:

There is a lush green meadow before one enters Heaven and Rainbow Bridge is the name of both the meadow and the adjoining pan-prismatic conveyance connecting it to Heaven and when a pet dies, it goes to the meadow, restored to perfect health and free of any injuries. The pet runs and plays all day with the others; there is always fresh food and water, and the sun is always shining. However, it is said that while the pet is at peace and happy, they also miss their owner whom they left behind on Earth.

When their owner dies, they too arrive at the meadow, and that is when the pet stops playing, turns, sniffs at the air, and looks into the distance where they see their beloved owner. Excited, they run as fast as they can, until owner and pet are once more in union. The pet licks its owners in joy while the human looks into the soft eyes of their pet—who might have been absent on Earth, but never absent in their heart. Then side by side, they cross the Rainbow Bridge together into Heaven, never again to be separated.

Do I believe the bridge is real? No. Do I believe our passed pets are in limbo, waiting for us to die to be with them so we can join Heaven together? I can certainly hope to be with them again – I truly, truly, truly would love that, but no, I do not think all my pets who have passed are waiting for me in a meadow until I die so we may join Heaven together. What I do believe, however, is that when a pet dies, for many people, myself included, they need something tangible to grasp onto. Something that symbolizes ceremony, peace, and perhaps a better place for the pet in the afterlife.

Rainbow Bridge or the often-used phrase “crossed over the rainbow bridge” is a euphemism many people use when a pet dies to communicate with others that the pet has passed rather than saying it bluntly, that the pet has died and I can appreciate the gentler sentiment.  I don’t take the bridge itself at face value, just like I don’t take several cultural rituals or icons at face value that I enjoy, such as Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny of which I will perennially Photoshop Santa hats and bunny ears on pictures of my cats to share with the world. But, it would be irresponsible of me not to admit upon further examination that for many, the Rainbow Bridge either bespeaks a louder, religious message that not everyone believes in, so perhaps participating in the day makes them uncomfortable or some may find the concept completely distasteful – a pet waiting for them to die before they themselves can be at peace.

I have to be respectful some might take the poem in a literal sense, even if I don’t believe it to be so and I shouldn’t assume my perception is the same as everyone else. Especially considering I’m not overtly religious and I don’t wish to promote or discount any religion one way or another with anyone. I’m the same with politics and many other trigger-point issues and it’s not my place to make judgments in any instance. I just want people to be able to live their lives, as peacefully as possible, with my only request being we are kind and tolerant of one another, accepting that we are all unique. The last thing I want to do is add more stress to someone’s day, or offend someone, over something that was created to bring joy to the memory of a beloved pet and nothing more. And honestly, isn’t that one of the best traits our pets have – they love us unconditionally and without judgment.

So, my question, concern, dilemma. Do I just retire from the day and let it run its natural course? Is it too much to bear in the long haul, to relive the loss of a pet(s) every year? I certainly don’t ever want anyone, ever, to feel obligated to participate in the day if they don’t want to and I’ve always been adamant about that. Pet loss is never easy but coupled with the nearly insurmountable exhaustion of a covid world, it makes pet loss even more difficult and for some, the thought of sharing a memory about a passed pet on August 28th to a concept that may, or may not be real is too much to handle. Especially when I know we miss our pet every day so why should we have to share our feelings on a day that our pet likely did not even pass on. If I were to retire from the day, I’m sure it would still float around in the universe as an official day, but I just wouldn’t host an annual blog hop or a Facebook event on my Purr Prints of the Heart page. People could do what they wanted on their own if they so chose and that would be that.

Or, do I perhaps rename the day – maybe something like Pets of the Heart Remembrance Day. But then, is that really necessary? There is already World Pet Memorial Day held on the second Tuesday of every June, Pet Remembrance Day held on July 5, and National Pet Memorial Day held on the second Sunday of every September. Maybe there are already enough days and I should just be grateful and proud of all the beautiful memories Rainbow Bridge Remembrance Day inspired and move on. Or, lastly, do I leave it as is, and continue each year with the day as originally named with the best of intentions with the understanding many do openly embrace the Rainbow Bridge and want to share memories without really questioning the origins of the poem? There is rarely a day that goes by that I don’t see the sentiment shared somewhere on social media when a pet passes (there are actually several large social groups devoted solely to the concept), so I know many people do take solace in the day.

I’m asking you all with complete honesty and transparency for feedback, but please just be respectful to others. If you don’t believe in the Rainbow Bridge, that’s fine. If you don’t like angels, or halos, or wings, or rainbows, that’s fine, too. But if someone else does, that’s okay, too. I happen to love designing graphics with those types of symbolism to express loss and sympathy, but not everyone agrees with me.  I just want an idea of how you feel in general and realize there is no right or wrong answer. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and I will respect that.

And keep in mind, as the founder of the day, it can be difficult for me, too. This year was especially tough. My son lost his cat this year – his lifeline to the world and he remains devastated. I can share many memories about many pets lost in my life, and honestly, I’m grateful I can find a reason to smile and remember them, but my Harley who passed in 2015, to this day, the door to sharing my feelings about her remains closed, her loss was just too devastating to me.

So, to all of you today, I love you, I respect you, and my heart goes out to you all who have loved and lost a pet. The day is what we want to make of it. I’m always overwhelmed when all is said and done, at just how much love and compassion I see on this day and it’s truly about the pet who lives forever in our hearts. Please take care and stay safe.

And before we go, in the spirit of remembering the good, I found some great archive photos of Jazz to share today. Since he’s the inspiration for it all, I thought it only fitting to share some memories that give me pause to smile. xoxox

2008 – Jazz says who needs spots to look like a leopard?

2010 – the epitome of bliss for me. Writing, surrounded by my beloved cats, a glass of wine at the ready. This was back when I was writing my first book, The Chronicles of Zee & Zoey and Jazz was never far from my side.

2011 – packing for my first ever BlogPaws trip to Tysons, VA. Jazz was hoping to come, too.

I return home from BlogPaws and Jazz is excited to discover something called “cat swag.”

2011 – my original gang of seven and always so happy to be together. Zee, Rolz, Mia, Zoey, Peanut, Jazz, and Harley.

Purr Prints of the Heart – the book that inspired it all.


If any of you are interested in Jazz’s life and death journey, 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. Zoolatry says:

    Yes, without judgment of others. So well said, Deb and I am in agreement with you. Have often quoted our current President … (paraphrased here)… “the day will come, I promise you, when the thought of your loved one … will bring a smile to your lips before it brings a tear to your eye.” I cannot not remember those, pets (and humans) who have made my life better, who have taught me how to live, who have given unconditional love. Though I may remember in the quiet of my heart each and every day, I am proud to acknowledge that remembrance to others.
    Thank you for your caring heart and soul.

  2. Thanks for making a day for us all to have extra special thoughts and remembrances of our precious angels.

    Your angel sweeties are treasures, deep in your heart forever; ♥