A Brief Memorial
Today my oldest and dearest companion travels to the rainbow bridge. Frankie, my family’s 17 year old Bichon Frise, was my first pet, my only “sibling”, and the best friend and playmate a child could have asked for.
Frankie never seemed to mind when I wanted to play dress up with her, or when I pushed her around in a baby stroller day after day. She kept me company when I had the chicken pox in 1st grade and never tattled when I buried the grape flavored Children’s Tylenol (yuck!) in the houseplants. Sadly, as it happens with most childhood friends, we grew apart. She went to live with my dad when I graduated and went off on my own. I started my own fur-family, but Frankie was never far from my thoughts and there was always a Christmas present under my tree for her.
Over these last few years she has had some health problems, but she always managed to push on. I knew that someday she wouldn’t be here, but living in a different home, her inevitable decline in health as a senior dog eluded me. This past Christmas I was shocked to see how old and frail my childhood friend had become. These last few months my dad kept me up to date on her health and tried to warn me that this day would be coming, but you’re never fully prepared to say goodbye. Her age had recently taken a toll on her appetite and mobility, and knowing that she has lived a long and full life, My dad had to make the call that it was time to let her go. The decision was not an easy one, as it is never easy to say good bye to a family member.
I will miss my faithful childhood friend, but knowing that we provided the best possible life for her and that she lived every day to its fullest helps to ease my pain. I will remember her as the bright, vibrant puppy that I walked around the block without a care in the world. I know she’ll be waiting for me at the rainbow bridge, probably chasing our cat, Belle, and all the other pets I am sure to love and lose over the years to come. We can all cross that final bridge together.
A note on grieving for pets
Unless you’ve lost a pet, it can be difficult to relate to those who are experiencing such a loss. Pet funerals are still relatively uncommon and it can be difficult to adjust to the absence of a companion. Most pet owners consider their animals parts of the family, and the grieving process is similar to that one would experience for human friend or family member. The same stages of grief (guilt, denial, anger, depression, and acceptance) may manifest in the days and weeks after a pet passes.
It is important that you let yourself experience the emotion and go through the stages of grieving. Don’t let anyone convince you that it is silly or sentimental to grieve over the loss of your pet. You spend a lot of time and invest a lot of yourself emotionally in your pets. They become an integral part of your life, and letting them go is a big adjustment. Allow yourself adequate time to heal and don’t be afraid to reach out if you need help coping with your loss. There are a myriad of websites, The Rainbow Bridge included, that can connect you with others who understand your pain and can help you start the healing process. If you know of any other ways to help the healing process, or if you want to share a story about a pet who is waiting for you at the Rainbow Bridge please feel free to share them with us in the comments.