Letters of Sympathy
As well as our Sympathy Cards, we can send a page with any of these letters below:
Losing your companion animal can be one of the most painful experiences in life we encounter. Our animals simply do not live long enough. It is extremely difficult for us to bear when this four legged, winged, or finned family member passes on and we are left with the void that their companionship has provided.
Animals seem to know when their time is up. The best thing that we can do as their caretakers is to hold and provide comfort to them, expressing our love as opposed to our need for them. Itís important to realize that they need us to assure that they donít suffer and that we can let go for their sake and not hold onto them for ours.
Both unexpected and planned deaths of our animals will bring grief, resulting in depression, fear, guilt and sadness. Seemingly endless, these emotions can be overwhelming. How can we heal from such trauma? Grief has no timetable. Eventually the emptiness will be replaced by thankfulness for the friendship that we were blessed to have had, if even for too short a time. Our animals give unconditional love, and our love for them can be as deep, or deeper, than some of those bonds formed with our human companions.
During this period, itís important to take care of yourself. Journaling, lighting a candle in honor of your animal, assembling a collage of photos or reading books about this grieving process can be helpful. Visiting a shelter to rescue another animal in need of a loving home can be a comfort not only to you and your family, but saves the life of another animal equally deserving of a home.
Donít try to replace your companion and expect that the new animal should have the same traits and characteristics as your last love, but rejoice in the spirit and personality that this desperately needy animal possess Ė all its own.
Animals enrich our lives more than we can ever think possible. Too often this isnít realized until after theyíve left this world. Keep in mind how much better both of your lives were because of the other and remember that your friend is peacefully crossing the Rainbow Bridge, lined by the best memories of your lives together.
When someone close to you loses their companion, VVSA offers Sympathy Cards especially designed to capture the sentiments, empathy, and wonderful spirit of the companion that has been bid farewell.
We have also found the following poems/short stories comforting.
DEATH: WHAT A WONDERFUL WAY TO EXPLAIN IT...
A sick man turned to his doctor as he was preparing to leave the examination room and said, "Doctor, I am afraid to die.
Tell me what lies on the other side."
Very quietly, the doctor said, "I don't know."
"You don't know? You, a spiritual man,
do not know what is on the other side?"
The doctor was holding the handle of the door; on the other side came a sound of scratching and whining, and as he opened the door, a dog sprang into the room and leaped on him with an eager show of gladness.
Turning to the patient, the doctor said,
"Did you notice my dog? He's never been in this room before. He didn't know what was inside. He knew nothing except that his master was here, and when the door opened, he sprang in without fear.
I know little of what is on the other side of death, but I do know one thing...
I know my Master is there and that is enough."
Original Version by Barbara Sue
A man and his dog were walking along a road.
The man was enjoying the scenery, when it suddenly occurred to him that he was dead. He remembered dying, and that the dog had been dead for years. He wondered where the road was leading them. After a while, they came to a high, white stone wall along one side of the road. It looked like fine marble.
At the top of a long hill, it was broken by a tall arch that glowed in the sunlight. When he was standing before it, he saw a magnificent gate in the arch that looked like mother of pearl, and the street that led to the gate looked like pure gold. He and the dog walked toward the gate, and as he got closer, he saw a man at a desk to one side. When he was close enough, he called out, "Excuse me, where are we?"
"This is heaven, sir," the man answered.
"Wow! Would you happen to have some water?" The man asked.
"Of course, sir. Come right in, and I'll have some ice water brought right up." The man gestured, and the gate began to open.
"Can my friend," gesturing toward his dog, "come in, too?" The traveler asked.
"I'm sorry; sir, but we don't accept pets."
The man thought a moment and then turned back toward the road and continued the way he had been going.
After another long walk, and at the top of another long hill, he came to a dirt road which led through a farm gate that looked as if it had never been closed. There was no fence. As he approached the gate, he saw a man inside, leaning against a tree and reading a book.
"Excuse me!" He called to the reader. "Do you have any water?"
"Yeah, sure, there's a pump over there" The man pointed to a place that couldn't be seen from outside the gate. "Come on in."
"How about my friend here?" The traveler gestured to the dog.
"There should be a bowl by the pump."
They went through the gate, and sure enough, there was an old fashioned hand pump with a bowl beside it. The traveler filled the bowl and took a long drink himself, then he gave some to the dog. When they were full, he and the dog walked back toward the man who was standing by the tree waiting for them.
"What do you call this place?" The traveler asked.
"This is heaven," was the answer.
"Well, that's confusing," the traveler said. "The man down the road said that was heaven, too."
"Oh, you mean the place with the Gold Street and pearly gates? Nope.
"Doesn't it make you mad for them to use your name like that?"
"No. I can see how you might think so, but we're just happy that they screen out the folks who'll leave their best friends behind."
Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.
When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge.
There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together.
There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.
All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by.
The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.
They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent; His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.
You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your companion, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.
Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together....
Keefer Irwin, Rochester
I could have missed the pain, but I would have missed the dance.
It was love at first sight seven years ago at the Central Vermont Humane Society in Barre. Coyote, a two-month-old Shepherd-Chow cross, had a tough start on life. Left on the shelter's front steps, dehydrated and riddled with intestinal parasites.
Destined for each other, we formed an inseparable team, whether we were waltzing the wild water of northern Canada or tap dancing on the trails of the Green Mountain National Forest. It was Coyote's constant companionship, instinctive protectiveness, and unbridled love that made all our adventures memorable. For seven years Coyote took the lead, her muscular body skulking and darting, while I'd catch myself marveling at her beauty, those proud, upright ears, and her foxy bronze pelage that glistened like a wheat field at sunset.
In the middle of our dance we were rudely tapped on the shoulder and asked to leave the floor. I had arrived homes seconds too late to prevent this horrific nightmare. All it took was Coyote weaseling her way out of the house, one man walking his dog across the street, and a speeding pickup truck. As I stepped out of the car and into the night, hearing a primal but familiar wail, I knew I was entering into an even darker place.
Under a tree Coyote laid clean and silent, eyes open, barely breathing. As I knelt beside her stillness, stroking and talking softly to her, I inwardly knew she was somewhere else. With a final gasp, Coyote's head flopped onto my forearm. In that instant, my heart and breath took a wing with hers.
I knew our love was deep but our dance was so short, our journey together so painfully cut. Now everything I do seems meaningless without her. But as days fuse into weeks that will meld into months, time will fade and dull the sharp pain of emptiness. I know that my grieving process has to run its very long course, through the overwhelming regrets, anger, haunting images, and bittersweet reminders.
This tragedy had made me realize that as pet owners, we will likely live beyond our pets. With our pets; too-short life expectancies, illnesses, and other external risks, we are doomed for heartbreak. The irony is that this pain is part of our joyous dance. Hurting is the price of love. You cannot have one without the other, Yet, we consciously accept those terrible odds. Why?
Because...we would have missed the dance. Sharing our lives with our pets is a grand dance, a celebration of life. If we can tune into them, listen, and follow some of their examples for simple living, they will teach us delight, patience, grace, and humor. Our pets are super-deluxe sampler gift packages, filled with the yummiest components that make life sweet and nourishing.
Coyote, my playmate, inseparable companion, and keeper of whispered secrets, death may have taken your life, but it didn't take away the scrapbook full of memories: the wake-up nuzzles, face licks while doing yoga, your favorite chase games and preferred yard spots. When I look out my office window I am reminded where your body rests in peace, buy your spirit lays buried forever in my heart.
THE LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT OF AN EXTREMELY DISTINGUISHED DOG
By, Eugene O'Neill
I, Silverdene Emblem O'Neill (familiarly know to my family, friends and acquaintances as Blemie), because the burden of my years and infirmities is hereby upon me, and I realize the end of my life is near, do hereby bury my last will and testament in the mind of my Master. He will not know it is there until after I am dead. Then, remembering me in his loneliness, he will suddenly know it as a memorial of me.
I have little in the way of material things to leave. Dogs are wiser than men. They do not set great store upon things. They do not waste their days hoarding property. They do not ruin their sleep worrying about how to keep the objects they have, and to obtain the object they have not. There is nothing of value I have to bequeath except my love and my faith. These I leave to all those who have loved me, to my Master and Mistress, who I know will mourn me most, to Freeman who has been so good to me, to Cyn and Roy and Willie and Naomi and I. But if I should list all those who have loved me it would force my Master to write a book. Perhaps it is vain of me to boast when I am so near death, which returns all beasts and vanities to dust, but I have always been an extremely lovable dog.
I ask my Master and Mistress to remember me always, but not to grieve for me too long. In my life I have tried to be a comfort to them in time of sorrow, and a reason for added joy in their happiness. It is painful for me to think that even in death I should cause them pain. Let them remember that while no dog has ever had a happier life (and this I owe to their love and care for me), now that I have frown blinds and deaf and lame, and even my sense of smell fails me so that a rabbit could be right under my nose and I might not know, my pride has sunk to a sick, bewildered humiliation. I feel life is taunting me with having over-lingered my welcome. It is time I said goodbye, before I become too sick a burden on myself on those who love me. It will be sorrow to leave them but not a sorrow to die. Dogs do not fear death as men do. We accept it as part of life, not as something alien and terrible which destroys life. What may come after death, who knows? I would like to believe with those of my fellow Dalmatians who are devout Mohammedans, that there is a Paradise where one is always young and full-bladdered; where all the day one dillies and dallies with an amorous multitude of houris, beautifully spotted; where jack rabbits that run fast but not too fast (like the houris) are as the sands of the desert; where each blissful hour is mealtime; where in long evenings there are a million fireplaces with logs forever burning, and one curls oneself up and blinks into the flames and nods and dreams, remembering the old brave days on each, and the love of ones Master and Mistress.
I am afraid this is too much for even such a dog as I am to expect. But peace, at least, is certain. Peace and long rest for weary old heart and head and limbs, and eternal sleep in the earth I have loved so will. Perhaps, after all, this is best.
One last request I earnestly make. I have heard my Mistress say, "When Blemie dies we much never have another dog. I love him so much I could never love another one." Now I would ask her, for love of me, to have another. I would be a poor tribute to my memory never to have a dog again. What I would like to feel is that, having once had me in the family, now she cannot live without a dog! I have never had a narrow jealous spirit. I have always held that most dogs are good (and one cat, the black one I have permitted to share the living room rug during the evenings, whose affection I have tolerated in a kindly spirit, and in rare sentimental moods, even reciprocated a trifle).
Some dogs, of course, are better than others. Dalmatians, naturally, as everyone knows, are best. So I suggest a Dalmatian as my successor. He can hardly be as well bred or as will mannered or as distinguished and handsome as I was in my prime. My Master and Mistress must not ask the impossible. But he will do his best, I am sure, and even his inevitable defects will help by comparison to keep my memory green. To him I bequeath my collar and leach and my overcoat and raincoat, made to order in 1929 at Hermas in Paris. He can never wear them with the distinction I did, walking around the Place Vendme, or later along Park Avenue, all eyes fixed on me in admiration; but again I am sure he will do his utmost not to appear a mere gauche provincial dog. Here on the ranch, he may prove himself quite worthy of comparison, in some respects. He will, I presume, come closer to jack rabbits than I have been able to in recent years. And, for all his faults, I hereby wish him the happiness I know will be his in my old home.
One last word of farewell, Dear Master and Mistress. Whenever you visit my grace, say to yourselves with regret but also happiness in your hearts at the remembrance of my long happy life with you: Here lies one who loved us and whom we loved. No matter how deep my sleep I shall hear you, and not all the power of death can keep my spirit from wagging a grateful tail.