Beloved pets offer unconditional love and a special type of companionship that transcends language. Thus, it makes sense that we mourn them when they die. There are various ways to cope with this experience.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- Rainbow Bridge Poems for Dogs
- Rainbow Bridge Poems for Cats
- Rainbow Bridge Poems for Birds
- Rainbow Bridge Poems for Horses
- Rainbow Bridge Poems to Share on Facebook or Instagram
- Rainbow Bridge Poems for Other Animals
For example, you could keep a piece of your pet with you at all times with pet memorial jewelry. Some people also overcome their grief by suggesting a pet has simply crossed over the “rainbow bridge.”
As this blog will describe in greater detail below, although the idea of the rainbow bridge may have roots that date back to ancient times, pet lovers have essentially rediscovered it in the past few decades thanks to a poem that describes a bridge pets cross over to a happy afterlife when they die.
This has inspired others to write their own rainbow bridge poems, like the examples listed here.
Rainbow Bridge Poems for Dogs
Whether you’re looking for an ideal rainbow bridge poem for your dog’s pet memorial, or you simply need some comfort after saying goodbye to a dear canine companion, these poems can help.
1. "Rainbow Bridge" by Steve and Diane Bodofsky
The idea of a rainbow bridge that pets travel across when they die has gained renewed popularity in recent years.
Its origin, however, dates back to ancient history. Some believe the original inspiration for the idea was a Norse legend. This take on a rainbow bridge poem relies on that interpretation.
Although it doesn’t specifically name which type of animal it’s about, it’s ideal for a dog, as the imagery describes an animal running through the grass, sniffing the air, and generally behaving like a happy pup who’s regained their youthful spirit after passing away.
2. “Waiting at the Ferry” by David Lee Wharton
The metaphor of the rainbow bridge suggests our lost pets have crossed a divide to a land where they wait to meet with us again one day.
This poem uses a similar metaphor, describing a dog who has crossed a river into the afterlife but still waits at the ferry, knowing the humans they loved when they were alive will someday join them.
The simple image of a faithful dog waiting for its owner’s arrival perfectly captures how we like to imagine our pets’ experiences after death.
3. “A ‘Special Place’” by Jan Cooper
The idea of the rainbow bridge appeals to mourning pet lovers for many reasons.
A simple one is the fact that poems describe the world on the other side of the rainbow bridge as being a happy place, where pets enjoy every moment while waiting to meet with us again. Jan Cooper’s “A ‘Special Place’” describes this type of world in even greater detail, focusing on how the afterlife must have a special area designed just for the delight of dogs.
4. “I Awake” by Mike Blanche
This poem may be particularly comforting if you’ve lost a dog who struggled with pain near the end of its life. It tells the story of such a dog, who rejoices when they cross over the rainbow bridge to a world where their pain is no more and they can play with other animals.
Instead of likening death to falling asleep, for this dog, it’s more akin to waking up to a happier existence.
5. "A Note to All our Friend(s) Who Wait at Rainbow Bridge" by John Quealy
This sweet rainbow bridge poem focuses on thanking our lost pets for the love and companionship they offered us in life. It specifically describes a pet with a “friendly bark and wagging tail,” making it fairly easy to imagine what type of pet author John Quealy was thinking about when he wrote the poem.
Like many of the other poems listed here, it also suggests the pets we’ve lost are waiting for a reunion that will surely come.
Rainbow Bridge Poems for Cats
No matter how gentle their presence may have been, when a cat is gone, we feel the absence tremendously. Luckily, we can also take comfort in rainbow bridge poems that suggest our feline friends are never truly gone.
6. "Request from the Rainbow Bridge" by Constance Jenkins
Losing a pet is naturally a painful experience. However, as this poem expresses, a pet on the other side of the rainbow bridge would want their former owners to continue living a happy life after they’re gone.
Like many rainbow bridge poems, this one doesn’t include any lines referencing a specific type of animal, but its author penned a “rainbow bridge arrival” story indicating she wrote it for her beloved cat Isolde.
7. “Dreams and Chin” by Jim Rusciano
Like “Waiting at the Ferry,” this poem suggests our lost pets wait for us on the other side of a river we will ourselves cross at some point in the future.
The specific pet the author describes in this poem sits on his lap and sleeps on his pillow in happier times, much like a faithful cat might.
8. “Wishes” by Kristen Sharer
Many will find relating to this poem easy, as it focuses on the simple wishes people have when mourning pets, such as wishing to hear a “softly, rumbling purr” one more time.
That said, it’s still a hopeful rainbow bridge poem, describing how we may still reunite with our lost pets “in a far, far better place.”
9. “Goodbye” by John Quealy
This is another moving poem by John Quealy, which explores the pain we experience in the moments when we need to say goodbye to our pets, while also highlighting the hope we can find if we “dream of that special day and time when we’ll meet at the Bridge.”
It’s also general enough that it can offer comfort to basically any pet lover, and doesn’t need to only offer reassurance to cat owners.
10. “Erica’s Song” by Lisa Singer
Anyone who’s ever enjoyed watching a curious pet cat explore the world of nature will appreciate this poem’s imagery. It’s a short but moving poem about a happy animal roaming the fields and napping in the sun on the other side of the rainbow bridge.
Rainbow Bridge Poems for Birds
Birds are among the most inspirational animals in the world. When a pet bird dies, someone can find comfort in such poems as:
11. ‘The Rainbow Bridge (Bird version)’ by Anonymous
Later, this blog will cover the original “The Rainbow Bridge” poem, whose author may (or may not) be anonymous. This poem is a modification of the original.
While the original seems to describe a dog or cat crossing over to a happy place on the other side of the Rainbow Bridge, this poem alters some of the wording to make it clear it’s referencing birds. You can easily find it by Googling “Rainbow Bridge poem birds.” You might even want to make your own modifications to make the poem more directly apply to your lost pet.
12. ‘Don’t Cry for Me When I’m Gone’ by Unknown
Like many Rainbow Bridge poems, this one doesn’t reference the Rainbow Bridge in specific terms, but it does offer a similar message of hope and support. Although this is a general pet loss poem that doesn’t focus on one specific animal, its mention of “a sparrow with a broken wing” reminding someone of a lost pet makes it an ideal choice after a bird’s death.
13. ‘A Time to Remember’ by John Quealy
Because this poem describes a lost pet as “flying home on the wings of a dove into God’s loving arms,” it might offer comfort to someone with deep religious faith mourning the loss of a pet bird. Like many poems of this nature, it can also be comforting after the loss of virtually any type of pet.
14. ‘To a Skylark’ by Percy Shelley
This is among the most famous poems to celebrate the beauty and glory of a bird. It can also qualify as a Rainbow Bridge poem. Poet Percy Shelley describes a bird that will continue to sing and fly higher and higher forever. To some, this may suggest the idea of a bird flying to a happy afterlife after its passing.
15. ‘Ode to a Nightingale’ by John Keats
Like “To a Skylark,” “Ode to a Nightingale” isn’t just one of the most popular and well-known poems about birds—it’s one of the most beloved poems of all time in general.
“Ode to a Nightingale” describes how such a glorious creature was “not born for Death,” but is instead immortal. It’s easy to understand how this sentiment could offer a degree of comfort to someone mourning the loss of a pet bird.
Rainbow Bridge Poems for Horses
Horses are majestic animals. These poems express the deep pain one may feel upon losing a horse, along with the optimism and hope they can find in the belief that their horse lives on elsewhere:
16. ‘Don’t Cry for the Horses’ by Brenda Riley-Seymore
Although this poem doesn’t specifically mention the Rainbow Bridge, it earns a spot on this list because it shares a similar message, explaining how horses who have passed on have simply been “set free” to live an even happier existence in another place.
17. ‘The Mourners’ by William Henry Ogilvie
This poem expresses the hope that the ghosts of other great horses will gather to both mourn and greet a horse upon its death, much like the creatures that greet lost pets in the original Rainbow Bridge poem. Because this poem is very short, it may also be perfect for a social media post.
18. ‘The Grandest Foal’ by Anonymous
In this poem, a godlike being describes how they plan to lend someone a horse, and although they acknowledge that the horse’s death at a young age may cause pain, their owner can rest assured that the horse will one day reunite with them in Heaven.
There are many Rainbow Bridge poems of this nature, in which a god explains to someone that they will lend them a pet for a short while. Naturally, such poems are popular among religious animal lovers.
19. ‘The Fly-Away Horse’ by Eugene Field
In “The Fly-Away Horse,” poet Eugene Field describes a horse that only rides at night. The lands through which the horse rides sound very similar in description to the land on the other side of the Rainbow Bridge in the original poem, filled with “meadows and lane” and “streamlets that sing at their play.”
The poem has a hopeful nature. It suggests those who spot the Fly-Away Horse can ride with it to these happy lands. While Field may have been implying that this horse is taking people to the worlds of their nighttime dreams, you could also read this as a horse reuniting with its former owner.
20. ‘How They Brought the Good News from Ghent to Aix’ by Robert Browning
While this poem doesn’t necessarily mention the death of a horse, it does imply it with such lines as “And into the midnight we gallop’d abreast,” offering a hopeful message that briefly but powerfully captures the glorious majesty of a horse.
Rainbow Bridge Poems to Share on Facebook or Instagram
Sharing Rainbow Bridge poems on social media can be a subtle way of letting others know you may need their support, while also offering comfort to friends and family who may be mourning the loss of a pet. The following are a few examples to keep in mind:
21. ‘The Rainbow Bridge (Rhyming version)’ by Steve and Diane Bodofsky
The original “The Rainbow Bridge” poem is somewhat long and thus may not be ideal for a Facebook or Instagram post. This rhyming version is shorter, and therefore better suited to social media.
22. ‘Heavenly Nap’ by Ron Tranmer
The best Rainbow Bridge poems to post on social media tend to be the ones that are simple and short. This is particularly true because people are often distracted on social media and might not be inclined to read a long poem all the way through.
“Heavenly Nap” is one poem that your social media followers are more likely to read in full. It’s a sweet little poem about a lost pet who is now at peace, napping in a happier place.
23. ‘For When They Leave Us…’ by Anonymous
This poem is slightly longer than some of the others in this section but is still ultimately short enough to work in the context of a social media post. It describes a cat having a conversation with God and explaining that it’s ready to travel to a happier world beyond this one, but it also understands those who love it will naturally experience some pain after it leaves. This poem is perfect for a religious cat-lover.
24. Isaiah 11:16
This is a unique example when compared to all others on this list, as it’s not technically a poem; It’s a Bible verse. However, many feel that Bible verses are poetic in nature, and use them in place of poems on social media. This particular verse describes a happy place where “the wolf will dwell with the lamb, and the leopard will lie down with the kid, and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together.”
25. ‘Loss of a Pet Cat or Dog’ by Anonymous
This is another Rainbow Bridge poem that’s ideal for Facebook or Instagram due to its short length. It offers a simple comforting message from the perspective of a lost pet, assuring its former owners that it “made it home” to a land where everything is “so pretty, so white, so fresh.”
Rainbow Bridge Poems for Other Animals
Dogs and cats are by no means the only pets that get to cross the rainbow bridge. These poems remind us it’s something all pets can share in.
26. "The Rainbow Bridge" by Paul C. Dahm or Anonymous
We get the modern idea of a rainbow bridge from one particular poem most people simply refer to as “The Rainbow Bridge.”
That poem naturally deserves a spot on this list, and despite the name of this section, it can actually apply to any beloved pet, including cats and dogs. Although many sources claim we don’t know the identity of the author, others claim a grief counselor named Paul C. Dahm originally wrote it.
27. “Rainbow Bridge: Sequel to the Original” by Jean McColgan
We might not know for certain who wrote the original rainbow bridge poem.
However, we do know this sequel to the original comes from Jean McColgan, who emphasizes the idea that we can reunite with our lost pets one day.
28. “A Bridge Called Love” by Anonymous
This poem offers comfort by expanding on the idea of the rainbow bridge.
It describes how the bridge of love we feel for our lost companions can help us remain connected with them even when we’re still alive and they’ve passed on. The poem explains how the love between a pet and an owner is so great that not even death can truly separate them.
29. “In the Candle’s Glow” by Laura Hickman
Anyone who ever needs reassurance as they get over the loss of a pet should turn to this poem in times of pain.
Author Laura Hickman writes of a faint glow that lets all who see it understand “All is well up on that ridge, the place we know as the Rainbow Bridge.”
30. "Beyond the Rainbow" by Cate Guyan
This rainbow bridge poem is among the most reassuring poems about losing a pet because it offers two reminders: one, that the place on the other side of the rainbow bridge is a land of happiness; and two, that it welcomes all animals.
Rainbow Bridge Poems: Saying Goodbye to Friends
The idea of the rainbow bridge has become one of the most popular euphemisms for death among pet lovers because it symbolizes a beautiful and hopeful idea. These poems express that idea wonderfully.
If you're looking for more ways to memorialize your pet, read our guides on how to plan a pet funeral and how to turn pet ashes into diamonds.