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. Leah says:

    Thank you for creating this day, Deb. I’m sorry about the loss of your Jazz. I know how hard it is to lose them.
    I find the idea of the Rainbow Bridge comforting, and I find some of the variations, like the ones about the rescuers, very moving.

  2. Loulou says:

    So sad for your loss of beautiful Jazz. And all the others, lost to so many. There are no words for losses. They just are. And every day is remembrance day for all of us who have lost animals in our families. Thank you for your kind words and the lovely card with cat prints as leaves. Such beautiful graphics.

    • Deb says:

      Thank you for your kind words, Loulou, and for stopping by. I’m also appreciative that you like the graphic – it really spoke to me as I was designing it.

  3. Stephanie B says:

    I hope you continue with this annually. I understand everything you wrote above and I think those who want to see this continue will be supportive. I love having this day of remembrance. To me it helps. I don’t ever want to forget. I too want to believe the Rainbow bridge is real and my furbabies are healthy and playing and waiting for me to be with them, but I think I know they’re not. I’m ok with that. It makes for nice thoughts and dreams. Please keep doing this. I love your posts💞

    • Deb says:

      Thank you for your kindness, Stephanie. Your words have touched me deeply and I appreciate your support and knowing you enjoy my posts.

  4. MomNora says:

    I believe in and hold dear the general idea of Rainbow Bridge as a place where my beloved pets are waiting for me so that we can be together again. I guess I have to have something because I don’t want to believe that this life is all there is. Not being religious at all, I don’t have a specific idea of heaven. Actually the meadow with animals all around and perfect weather is all I really need!

    As to Remembrance Day, I feel it’s like any of the other days or holidays – everyone can participate or not in their own way. I don’t think anyone feels they have to subscribe to the same vision of the Bridge to take part in any of the various days you mentioned. At least, I hope they don’t. Not being religious, I don’t tend to take part in things that feel overly religious to me. That’s why the very general, non-denominational Bridge description works for me.

    I think you should continue doing whatever *you* need and want to feel comforted and at peace with your losses and remembering and honoring your loved ones. With the way things spread and mutate (evolve?) from their original intent, everyone is going to take what they like and make it their own. I don’t think you should feel a responsibility to continue trying to keep it just as it was when started, or control where it goes.

    I like that days like this exist and don’t see anything wrong with having more than one!

    Hugs & purrs as we all remember those we miss.

    Mine are: Jasper, Daisy, Finnegan, Buddy, Jazzy, Heidi, Cheeto, GK, Sugar Ray, and many others who may have belonged to another human but are held in my heart.

    • Deb says:

      MomNora, thank you for your comments and interpretation of the day and the struggle I was feeling with it. I appreciate your thoughtfulness and my heart goes out to you and your beautiful angels.

  5. Timmy Tomcat says:

    We believe in the Rainbow Bridge or Heaven if you like but maybe in a different context. Matter is not created or destroyed and the same with energy. There is an energy, a vitality and power to all things that live and we think that does go on. It may be in any of a multitude of forms and it may be formless but there is this place in our humble opinion and we want to go there when our time comes. We sure love our Angels and hope you come and visit us and them today!

    • Deb says:

      Timmy Tomcat – I love that explanation. I do think there is an energy, too, just in a different format and it gives me comfort to think of it that way. Thank you – xoxox

  6. We hope this day continues. We like the idea of a special day to remember our sweet babies who have left us.

    The Florida Furkids

  7. Marilyn burak says:

    My kitty who was tortie got sick,and on June 7,2019 I took her to the vet and they put her to sleep..I was with her when they did this, and it broke my heart to lose her…I am still grieving,and I miss her everyday…

  8. Sue Brandes says:

    Hugs to you. I could not read the whole post as I am still grieving the loss of my two kitties within two months of each of each other this year. I love that you have this day. And I believe my kitties are at the Rainbow Bridge healthy and happy. I have felt both of them and saw a streak of orange go past one day and my kitties were sleeping in other rooms.

    • Deb says:

      I know you are still deeply hurting, Sue, and my heart goes out to you. How beautiful that you received spirit visits. That is especially special. I’ve had that with Jazz, too, but not any of my other pets that I can recall.

  9. Stephanie P says:

    I know it is hard to do this post annually, Deb, but it does help those of us who have lost our beloved companions remember them even more on this day. It is especially hard for me to write or post or even share photos about the loss of my beautiful cat, Teacup, who ate a piece of string and died while at the vet, without us there. I think of her today, as I do often. Thank you, Deb, for having created this space every year,

    • Deb says:

      Oh, Stephanie. My heart goes out to you regarding your precious Teacup. I imagine it is very hard to write about or share photos and I completely understand and respect that. Thank you for coming by – xoxox

  10. Crystal says:

    Deb, I think it’s a beautiful day and concept. It gives hope at a time when some light is desperately needed. When I had a classroom and learned of a student’s beloved pet passing, I often reached out to the family to ask if it was okay to share a gift and the story of the rainbow bridge, acknowledging that it may not square with their beliefs. Every family loved the idea to comfort their children, and some who hadn’t heard of it said it made them feel better, too. There’s something for everyday, and some we see, don’t necessarily agree with, and move about our days without celebrating or acknowledging. I think the day is important, and it’s already brought so much good into the world, a legacy Mr. Jazz would be honored by! ❤️

    • Deb says:

      Thank you so much for your insight as a teacher, Crystal. Grief is especially difficult for children to comprehend and it’s very thoughtful of you to communicate with the family first, before sharing the concept of the Rainbow Bridge. I still feel Mr. Jazz on my shoulder, guiding me, and bringing me comfort. And yes, there are so many different themed days of the year and everyone has the prerogative to participate, or not participate in any, none, or some of them. I certainly don’t acknowledge or celebrate them all and it’s perfectly fine for those that don’t want to participate in Rainbow Bridge Remembrance Day not to. Purrs and love from Deb and all the angels you’ve known in our family – angel Jazz, angel Bandit, and angel Harley.

  11. Valentine says:

    Mew mew, hello, Miss Deborah. Purr purr purr and kisses. Thanks so very much for founding a day when the world can give special honors to anipals that have gone OTRB, and thanks, too, for doing the bloggy hop again this year. Mom says, “You have such a big heart and have encouraged so many people to share their own stories, photos, and life’s journeys with their own furry companions that have gone to the rainbow. I’m sure it has helped many cope with loss and grief, as it has also give a platform for sharing fond memories. There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think of the furry companions from my past. They are still part of me–part of my soul and heart –always and forever.”

  12. I remember when Jazz passed. I grieved with you and loved how you communicated so eloquently your thoughts. Having been owned by a large number of pets, I know the grief and happiness that remembering them brings. Each has impacted my life. Further, through blogging, I have “met” and “known” many other pet personalities and I grieved for them and their people when they died.
    As I actually write my blog for my grand children, many human type adventures have taken place. When these furrends pass over the bridge, I can acknowledge that they live on in thoughts, dreams and imagination. There can be great comfort for a child when this event is not something fearful.
    The Rainbow Bridge Remembrance Day is special to the blogging community, just as you and Jazz (and the other members of your clowder) are. Thank YOU for creating something that honors our befores. Love your post Deb! Barb

    • Deb says:

      Thank you so, so much for your kind comments, Barb. Most of my early blogging focused on my cats, Zee and Zoey, and their kittens, and when I shared a post specifically about Jazz, he always got such wonderful feedback. When I shared his end-of-life journey with others, it really was mind-altering. I love how you use dreams and imagination to help a child with grief.

  13. It is a sad day every year, but I think it is important to remember loved ones lost. XO

  14. Thank you so much Deb for your beautiful post and for creating the Rainbow Bridge Remembrance Day. I hope that you will continue to host it as long as you can and celebrate all of the positive things that have come out of it – that you have created a beautiful and tangible way for us to remember our beloved pets and to gather with those who understand and support one another in their grief as well. I don’t necessarily believe in the concept of the Rainbow Bridge as it is laid out in the poem, although the possibility that I could one day see my beloved pets again brings me great hope. For me this event isn’t about the actual belief. It’s about having a safe place and a supportive community to express my feelings… to share my love for my departed pets… to remember the joy that my pets have brought me…and it’s like Santa Claus… I may know that he isn’t “real” in the sense that our culture perpetuates but that doesn’t mean I am going to steal the joy of believing in Santa from a child (of any age)!

    P.S. Your friends, family and faithful readers know you and your heart. Tune out the naysayers – they are not your people nor part of your tribe. xoxo 🙂

    • Deb says:

      Thank you, Create With Joy. You really nailed it. I remember after Jazz passed and I started to blog about the journey – there were so many people who thanked me in comments for giving them a safe haven to talk about their feelings of loss and grief. It’s become more mainstay, but back in 2013 (and certainly years prior) admitting you felt grief after the loss of a pet was not widely accepted or understood. Having a place for people to feel loved, safe, and comfortable is so important to me and the impetus to everthing.

  15. caren says:

    Wonderful, wonderful post Deb! I had the pleasure of knowing some of your babies through blogging and I miss them so. (((hugs))) Sorry I couldn’t bring myself t post on the blog last year or this year, maybe next year. Didn’t post on Facebook because I never received the link to join the page…….when I just went to the page from Melissa’s blog, there was no place to share anything…..I know you saw I posted on my 2 pages but didn’t post on your Rainbow Bridge Page because it won’t let me lol.

    • Deb says:

      Thank you, Caren. You did “grow up” with Jazz and Harley, just like I grew up with your angels, Cody and Dakota and there are so many wonderful memories of them all. No worries on posting, you know my feeling on the subject, posting is not meant to be mandatory, so please, no need to apologize. The heart knows when the time is right. As far as a link, it was shared on the cat blogosphere but I didn’t do any formal invites. Covid just wore me out this year and I didn’t want to overstep bounds with people. Purr Prints of the Heart always has an event for the day, not sure why it didn’t let you post – I’ll check it out. Much love to you, Lenny, Levi, and Roary.

  16. While I’m not a big believer in the Rainbow Bridge, I do believe it’s an easier way to say a pet died. I think it’s nice to have a day designated to remembering those pets that are no longer with us, though I remember my angel cats every single day. ~Island Cat Mom

  17. Thank you so much for creating this special day. The Rainbow Bridge concept is such a comfort to so many of us.

  18. Brian Frum says:

    Such a beautiful post Deb and your special day has sure taken on a live of its own.

  19. Kitties Blue says:

    The concept of the Rainbow Bridge has never really appealed to me. Through the years, I have mostly avoided using that term, but I have at times. I do hope I will spend eternity with all my beloved furkids, but I have no idea what to expect after I die. I do like this day as a way of remembering those furkids I have loved and who have passed, as they do remain in my heart. Big hugs, Janet

  20. meowmeowmans says:

    I think it’s a special and important day, Deb. Even if there is not a literal Rainbow Bridge, it’s comforting to know that the unconditional love we share with our pets will live on forever. I hope this means we will be reunited with all of our angels one special day, but even if we aren’t, won’t they live in our hearts and memories until we breathe our last?