Doggy Heaven: The [Bifröst] Bridge

I love animals, I do work at my local shelter, and am currently working towards becoming a certified dog trainer.  I  presently have two cats, one of which is a rescue cat, and if I had room, I’d bring the dogs home too.  I lost my oldest shelter cat to cancer about a year and a half ago, and I was actually present when my childhood pup was euthanized.   

I tell you all this so that no one assumes I don’t care about or understand the issues facing homeless animals or shelter life, etc. because what I am about to say may be unpopular to some of the more sensitive “animal people.”  Although I understand people wanting to think comforting things when they lose a beloved pet or animal companion, I really don’t get the Rainbow Bridge thing.  

The Rainbow Bridge is the theme of a work of poetic prose written some time between 1980 and 1992, whose original creator is unknown. The theme is of a mythological place to which a pet goes upon its death, eventually to be reunited with its owner. It has gained popularity amongst animal lovers who have lost a pet. The belief shows similarities with the Bifröst bridge of Norse mythology (source).

I guess it is supposed to be like Doggy Heaven or whatever.  I don’t even really believe in people heaven, but I recognize and respect that there are a huge number of people in this country and others that do.  But does anyone really believe in the fabled Rainbow Bridge?  I’d assume it is used mostly as a metaphor for our beloved animals finally being at peace in the afterlife…or something.  But I swear, the way some people talk about it, it seems to have taken on a afterlife of it’s own.

**EDIT: I swear, I just saw a perfect example of this.  A friend’s dog passed and one of his friends told him “…hes crossed the rainbow bridge and running and playing with all the other luved furbabies who have left..hope him and [my cat] are chillin together…”  Maybe some people would find comfort in that… but if someone said that to me when my cat passed, I’d probably have wanted to throat punch them…   Because to my ears it just sounds like one of those well-meaning but ultimately hollow things people say to grieving people.

Bifrost bridge of Norse mythology

Bifrost bridge of Norse mythology

It is interesting to note that there seems to be some discussion among Christians as to whether or not animals “go to Heaven,” when they die, and whether or not they have “souls.”  Perhaps this is part of the reason some may feel a need for animals to have their very own heaven to go to when they pass from this world.  (1), (2), (3)

But,  though I would not begrudge anyone mourning a loss something that gives them comfort… I don’t believe in deluding myself for comfort’s sake either.

However…this would be nice…

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Do you believe there’s a real Rainbow Bridge?

Do you think animals go to Heaven?

Feel free to (respectfully) discuss!

 

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“Death is a Door…”

“… we all acted alone, we were caught alone, and every one of us will have to die alone. But that doesn’t mean that we are alone.”  (Hans Fallada, 1947)

“Every living creature on earth dies alone.”  (Donnie Darko, 2001)

Donnie Darko and Roberta Sparrow

Donnie Darko and Roberta Sparrow

“Everybody dies alone.”  (Firefly, 2002)

“Son. Everyone dies alone. That’s what it is. It’s a door. It’s one person wide. When you go through it, you do it alone.”  (Dead Beat, 2005)

Are you afraid to die?  It seems like a simple question, but it requires you to be brutally honest with yourself.  What are your beliefs?  Are you religious?  Do you actually believe your religion’s tenants on death and afterlife?  

I suppose it could make a difference to you if you genuinely felt God will be with you when you shuffle off the mortal coil.   But I imagine some people clutch to their ideas of an afterlife specifically to keep at bay the terrors of death.  What happens when we die?  Do we just cease to exist?  I for one can’t conceive of not being aware, not being able to think.  

Have you ever had a serious illness or injury and felt that black stab of panic?  Am I going to die?  Maybe you’ve just been in a significant amount of pain and felt like you would die. (If you’ve ever had a migraine, you might sympathize with the thought of wishing for death, or at the very least, a long narcotic induced oblivion.)  I suffer from anxiety and panic attacks sometimes as well, which can make even a non-life-threatening situation feel exponentially worse. Suddenly, you think that migraine may actually kill you…just give you a stroke or something.

In these moments, that’s when our true feelings about death surface.

I’d like to think if my family was on a plane and it was going down, I’d be okay as long as my last moments were spent with those dearest to me, my husband and child.  But it’s been my experience that when you are in that moment of fear, panicked, you are completely alone.  

Don’t get me wrong.  Not every death is untimely or traumatic.  You may die of old age, going peacefully in your sleep, or surrounded by loved ones, but death is a door and it’s only one person wide.  We all walk through it alone.