To celebrate & honour Butter, our guiding light
A mental health initiative to help come to terms with the loss of a beloved animal companion/friend
Bridging Rainbows is a mental health and emotional well-being initiative for compassionate individuals dealing with the loss of a beloved animal companion (stray or pet, gone missing or departed for the rainbow bridge).
A burning issue that many of us do not know what to do about, is life after the loss of a beloved animal companion, whether he/she lived with us at home or we cared for them on the streets. It becomes more difficult when there is just no closure if their status remains missing or if we were not around when they left for the rainbow bridge. While we knew they had come with a very short life span; whether the loss was untimely or advanced age-related, or if the tough decision to put to sleep had to be taken after reaching the point of no return, we are never really ready to lose an integral part of us that is never going to come back. Then, more often than not, there are those ifs and buts that creep in, which may or may not have changed the outcome, but they consume us in the form of guilt. How many of us have ever spoken openly about the loss – the sense of disillusionment and the loneliness that follow?
For the fear of being judged or ridiculed in a society that has failed to accord the respect of equality the human-animal bond deserves, or because the loss is just too fresh or personal to be spoken, most of us live with our grief in silence and allow it to fade into the oblivion. This deafening silence on our part further pushes the conversation around ‘grief of loss of an animal’ from being labelled as normal. Then, there are some insensitive remarks, although not with the intent to hurt, we have to deal with, “That was just a dog/cat/bird/rabbit/fish/duck/squirrel/donkey/calf, get a new one.” “But, had it not lived its age already?” “It has already been quite some time, forget it.” Whatever be the time lapse, the wound is always going to remain raw – just as in case of loss in our human relationships is, an irreplaceable one. Maybe, the only thing that time will do, is to make the pain bearable. After all, the bond was an emotional investment nurtured with unconditional love.
So, where and how do we set on the path of in pursuit of peace? We need to accept that it is absolutely alright to grieve the loss, regardless of the opinions we may be surrounded with, so let us stop fearing being judged and affected by it. Then, grieving is a process (it is not time bound at all!) and there is just no shortcut or a ‘how to’ it. We need time to accept the reality of loss, to let it sink in and that is when the first step towards healing begins. It is about taking each day as it comes. There will be moments of immense strength and then suddenly we will be all broken. That is how we gradually learn to live with the pain of loss. That said, let us not make the matters of our emotional well-being worse by retreating into a cocoon of wallowing and isolation, but try to look for the light at the end of the tunnel.
There are others like us, who treat animals as family and equals, who have experienced similar blows at some point in their lives. They can not only empathise and provide moral support, but also show us the light as they have risen above grief to find a balance that has only emboldened their compassion. We can find inspiration to cope, eventually to realise that it is compassion itself that will come to rescue us from our grief-stricken state. It will help chamber our pain and urge us to become a super-spreader of compassion. Let us try to nurse our broken heart by channelizing our pain and putting our grief to good use, to fuel more compassion, to honour those who have left us.
That is where Bridging Rainbows, a first of its kind mental health initiative in India, for the global compassionate fraternity, comes in!
Bridging Rainbows motto is to normalise the conversation around mental health and emotional well-being after the loss of dear animal friends.
Bridging Rainbows wants to connect the like-minded to share the grief together, set the path for introspection to help transition onto acceptance and indulge in more compassion as a key to healing, an action for greater good.
Bridging Rainbows is a place to accord the respect the human-animal bond deserves, to share the unspoken emotion, aimed to sow more seeds of compassion.
Bridging Rainbows, considers all the animals as equals. Our emotional bond is not only limited to the homed animals, but also for the ones we have cared for on the streets, loved them as much and their loss is no different from that of pets. Thus, Bridging Rainbows also includes the stray animals, birds, homed animals (pets) and covers those who have crossed the rainbow bridge, and also the ones who went missing and were never found.
The Bridging Rainbows blog section exclusively celebrates the joy of human animal bond in day to day living and serves to explain the pressing matters concerning animal welfare for awareness purpose.
ANU PANDEY, PHD
“A much needed platform for healing when you need it the most. Reading through everyone’s experiences makes you feel you are not alone in this. A novel idea and a superb initiative.”
“Bridging Rainbows is giving a unique way to process loss. It gives hope amidst grief and connecting like minded thoughts in a very innovative way.”
“Bridging Rainbows makes the lives of several sentient beings visible. Dogs, cats, donkeys, horses, cows move around our vicinity. For many they just don’t exist. For few they are companions. And when they find a mention on Bridging Rainbows in ways of their passing or celebration of the joy they bring, it is a message to them asserting that their lives matter. The platform also connects the animal welfare community. It paves an information wave about animals for the just initiated to the world animal welfare. Bridging Rainbows empathetically surges forward towards a better world for animals.”
“One of the most gracious and noble things to do in life is bringing solace to hearts traumatized by the passing of loved ones. Bridging Rainbows is doing precisely that. It deserves the support of all sensitive and compassionate people.”
Grief arises from the wellspring of love, whether it is directed toward our human attachments or animal companions. As a living legacy of their love for their own precious dog, Butter, the founders of Bridging Rainbows have opened their hearts of compassion to the countless canines that struggle for simple existence on the margins of human society. In my own time in India I have seen both the freedom and suffering of the dogs that are omnipresent from the mountains of the north to the jungles of the south, and I appreciate these needed efforts to give them a measure of dignity, security, and love. This is deeply humane work, and worthy of respect and support from all those whose capacity to care is not limited to our own species.
ROBERT NEIMEYER, PHD
Disclaimer: Bridging Rainbows (established 15th August, 2021) aims to raise awareness about the mental health needs of the compassionate fraternity and is not a substitute to professional mental health service.