Goodbye Lucy, our faithful friend of 22 years. We loved you always; we will love you always; and you never stopped loving us. I hope you’re playing with your pal Bonny the cat at Rainbow Bridge and waiting for us to come home when our time on earth is complete. We miss you…

LUCY (a short verse)

If you miss me as you live your life today,
Think of the glorious memories of yesterday,
Then look toward the northern sky,
Where at Rainbow Bridge we run, we play, we fly,
With other friends we wait for you there,
And until that day, we are the wind, ruffling your hair.

© 2014, Ryan Price

For Lucy, January 1992 – February 2014

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I Am Still Here

image

I stood by your bed last night, I came to have a peep.
I could see that you were crying, You found it hard to sleep.
I whined to you softly as you brushed away a tear,
“It’s me, I haven’t left you, I’m well, I’m fine, I’m here.”

I was close to you at breakfast, I watched you pour the tea,
You were thinking of the many times, your hands reached down to me.
I was with you at the shops today, Your arms were getting sore.
I longed to take your parcels, I wish I could do more.

I was with you at my grave today, You tend it with such care.
I want to re-assure you, that I’m not lying there.
I walked with you towards the house, as you fumbled for your key.
I gently put my paw on you, I smiled and said “ it’s me.”

You looked so very tired, and sank into a chair.
I tried so hard to let you know, that I was standing there.
It’s possible for me, to be so near you everyday.
To say to you with certainty, “I never went away.”
You sat there very quietly, then smiled, I think you knew…
In the stillness of that evening, I was very close to you.

The day is over… I smile and watch you yawning
and say “good-night, God bless, I’ll see you in the morning.”
And when the time is right for you to cross the brief divide,
I’ll rush across to greet you and we’ll stand, side by side.
I have so many things to show you, there is so much for you to see.

Be patient, live your journey out…then come home to be with me.

image

~

For Lucy: 1992 – 2014
This photo of Lucy was taken on the 10th January 2014 at 2:31pm
Passed away 24th February 2014 at around 14:45.

For Jane, with thanks to Dee…

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Rainbow Bridge

Just this side of heaven lies the 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 there
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 vigour.
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 pet,
so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together…

~

For Lucy: 1992 – 2014
Photo taken 19th February 2014
Passed away 24th February 2014 at around 14:45.

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The Loss of a Pet

(This is an article reprinted from an earlier post, when we lost our faithful old cat 4 years ago.)

Some might think true grief is reserved for our fellow homo-sapiens, but as a moving tribute from one British politician shows, the loss of a pet prompts real mourning.

Even in the UK, which has what is seen by many non-Britons as a slightly repressed attitude towards death, prolonged mourning and visible grief is considered normal for the death of a family member or a close friend.

But in a nation of animal lovers there are many who feel almost the same way about the loss of a pet, but whose emotions occasionally provoke raised eyebrows.

The writer, broadcaster and former Labour deputy leader Lord Hattersley wrote this week (originally in 2010) in a newspaper about his grief for Buster his canine companion of 15 years, who died in October. “I sat in the first floor room in which I work, watching my neighbours go about their lives, amazed and furious that they were behaving as if it was a normal day,” wrote Hattersley. “Stop all the clocks. Buster was dead.”

History is full of close relationships between man and beast. Read any history of Alexander and Bucephalus, his horse and constant companion, looms large. Much missed after his death at the Battle of the Hydaspes, a new city in what is now Pakistan was named after him. And what greater symbol of animal constancy can there be than Greyfriars Bobby, a terrier who supposedly spent 14 years faithfully attending his master’s grave in Edinburgh.

ANIMALS IN AFTERLIFE

Some in ancient Egypt mummified cats and thought they had afterlife. Animal heaven frequently referred to in US and UK as ‘Rainbow Bridge’ comes from anonymous 1980s prose poem. It starts: ‘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’

“For anybody who has had a pet in their life they form a unique and very special member of the family, and remain so,” says Margot Clarke, manager of the Pet Bereavement Support Service. “In terms of that very special bond that individuals share it’s like any bond, once it’s broken, individuals feel that loss. That is expressed as grief.”

Many of those who contact the PBSS are disappointed by the reaction of those around them to their loss. “They often trivialise that loss and don’t recognise it as being special and unique,” says Ms Clarke. “A lot of people say ‘just get another pet’. But the time has to be right.”

Established 16 years ago, the PBSS is a joint venture between the charity Blue Cross and the Society for Companion Animal Studies and provides what it terms “emotional support” – primarily by phone – rather than formal counselling for pet owners.

“A lot of our callers say to us ‘Gosh I didn’t feel this bad when I lost my father or mother or sister’,” says Ms Clarke. It’s a state of mind that Bob Nicholson can understand, having lost his dog Ivo, a Collie cross, after 16-and-a-half years. Mr Nicholson, of Fife, had raised Ivo from from a puppy to his death in September.

“I do not pretend that my grief was unique – I merely state, as a matter of fact, that nothing has ever caused me as much pain as Buster’s death”
– Roy Hattersley

When Mr Nicholson, of Fife, had lost his father, the dog was there to help. When Ivo died, no-one was there. The dog had been a link to a father and a brother who had gone. Now that link was gone. “It’s left a massive hole in my life. I lost my father two years ago. When my dad died the dog was there. I felt a bit ashamed – losing my dog actually affected me more than when I lost my father.” The lack of understanding from some people is an aggravating factor. “Some people feel disdain [as] it was only a dog.”

With the strength of these feelings, it is perhaps not surprising that many pet owners want to mark the death of their beloved animals. In Mr Nicholson’s case he went to Dawn Murray, who runs the Pet Undertaker business from her home near Lanark. She organises cremations, removing the bodies from the owner’s homes or vets’ practices in a special animal hearse, taking them to dedicated pet crematoria and then returning the ashes to the owners. About 200 owners a year book cremations and there is the occasional burial as well.

“The dog or the cat isn’t just part of the family it is their family. It may be they want their pet treated with the same dignity accorded to any member of the family. If granny died in hospital you wouldn’t leave the doctor to make the funeral arrangements.”

It is not just cats and dogs that are commended to her. She has dealt with everything from newts and lizards to degus, chinchilla-like rodents.

Many pets are regarded like family members: People also call her for reassurance and practical advice. Two issues loom large over pet bereavement – people not being taken seriously, and the need to take time out to mourn. “Most people they take the day off but most tend to tell a lie for fear of ridicule or that the boss won’t understand,” says Ms Murray. “They take a day off sick leave rather than admit to being off because of pet bereavement.” Many of those facing up to such sadness want spiritual reassurance. When humans die, many religious relatives have the consolation of their belief in an afterlife.

In the world of pet bereavement, this is often referred to as “Rainbow Bridge”, based on a prose poem written by an anonymous author in the 1980s. There are countless references to it on message boards and tribute sites. “Rainbow Bridge is a mythical pet heaven,” says Ms Murray. “The spiritual side of pet bereavement is powerful. [Those that believe in it] come from all walks of life – they are not wacky people.” Very loosely inspired by the Norse legend of Bifroest, the “rainbow bridge” represents the notion that owners will meet their pets again after death in a joyous reunion.

Cremations and even burials are wanted by some owners. It may be argued that it fills a gap left by the treatment of animals in some mainstream religions. “The churches have been slow to recognise the spiritual significance of the human-animal bond,” says Rev Prof Andrew Linzey, an Anglican priest and director of the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics.
“When a companion animal dies, we feel a natural sense of dislocation and loss. The churches should offer us rites to help us deal with our bereavement.” Prof Linzey addressed this issue when he decided to bury his beloved dog Barney in the garden. As it seemed there were no prayers or liturgies specifically for the death of pets, he wrote the book Animal Rites.

And of course, there is something near unique about pet bereavement – the issue of euthanasia.

Many pet owners have had to make a decision that only tiny numbers ever have to make about a human relative – the decision to end a life, with all the guilt that that entails…

– Ryan Price (2010)

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Today at around 2:45pm we said our final goodbyes to our beloved Lucy, who died aged an impressive 22 years old. She had been a true member of our family since adoption from the RSPCA 21 years ago in January. She was much loved by us all and gave us love unconditionally. She wasn’t just a dog, not just a pet; She was one of us. She will never be forgotten and will remain with us always. It’s a sad day and although she was so strong, her health, mobility and quality of life deteriorated so much that it would’ve been unkind to let her struggle on any longer. Goodbye Lucy, we always loved you and always will. Thank you for the wonderful, happy times you gave us.

Thank you to Paul and Matthew for supporting her in her final minutes, and to Jane for being so brave & strong and always doing the right thing, for Lucy and for us.

Goodbye Lucy, our dear old friend.

—-

The first picture of Lucy was taken on the 10th January 2014 at 2:31pm

The second picture is probably one of the last taken of Lucy on February 19th, 2014 at 3:29pm. She was struggling to weight-bear and often needed picking up… It’s just not sinking in yet that she has gone. She grew up with me and my 2 younger brothers. I think I was a 12 year old boy (I’m the eldest) when she literally came storming into our lives! She was so overjoyed to have found her forever home!

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She is Gone – A Poem

You can shed tears that she is gone,
or you can smile because she has lived. You can close your eyes and pray that she’ll come back,
or you can open your eyes and see all she’s left.

Your heart can be empty because you can’t see her,
or you can be full of the love you shared. You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday,
or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday.

You can remember her and only that she’s gone,
or you can cherish her memory and let it live on. You can cry and close your mind,
be empty and turn your back,
or you can do what she’d want:
smile, open your eyes, love and go on.

David Harkins, © 1981
Silloth, Cumbria, UK •••

Included by the Queen on the order of service for the Queen Mother’s funeral on Tuesday 9th April 2002, the poem ‘She Is Gone’ was credited to ‘Anon’. Her Majesty was said to have encountered the work at the funeral of the late" Dowager Viscountess De L’Isle, whose family had found the poem in a small anthology published in 1999. After the Queen Mother’s funeral much effort went into attempts to identify the author, with attributions going to, among others Immanuel Kant and Joyce Grenfell, before the author was discovered to be former baker David Harkins from Cumbria. David Harkins had written the piece in the early eighties, though not as a funeral oration, but in homage to an unrequited love.

David Harkins wrote to The Daily Mail on Tuesday January 14th 2003 as follows:- ‘I was 23 when I first met Anne LLoyd, my inspiration for the poem I called Remember Me.
She was 16 and didn’t know me, but had seen her about and knocked on her door one evening in November 1981. Anne answered, and I introduced myself as a painter (painting was a hobby of mine back then) and asked her to pose.
She agreed, and I returned on the Thursday evening, when I made feeble attempts to sketch Anne. This proved difficult as her mother was present throughout.
Anne posed for me about eight times, and we met regularly for a couple of years and talked a great deal, though we never even kissed, which is probably why I poured all my feelings about her into my poetry.
I completed Remember Me in about March 1982, but until last year none of my poems received any recognition. Pam, a one act play from 1987, was my last piece of work inspired by Anne.
Shortly afterwards I met Jayne, my wife, and I have not seen Anne since. My writing has dried up and I’m now a painter selling my works on the internet.’
David Harkins, Silloth, Cumbria. Further Foot Note:

News & Star 12/09/2002 I wrote the Queen Mum’s funeral poem By Chris Musson THE mystery author of a poem which was read out at the Queen Mother’s funeral can now be revealed as a Cumbrian man who wrote it more than 20 years earlier when he was a young bakery worker. The poem was recited at the royal funeral earlier this year and sparked a glut of media interest because of its simple, upbeat nature – and mystery author. The Queen had found the poem while leafing through old memorial service books and she chose it to be read at her mother’s funeral at Westminster Abbey in April, where it struck a chord with millions of mourners. Today the News & Star can reveal that Silloth man David Harkins wrote the poem in 1981 while working at Robertson’s bakery in Durranhill, Carlisle. Mr Harkins, 43, has since received a letter of thanks from the Prince of Wales. The discovery finally ends a nationwide media hunt for the poem’s author. Mr Harkins, who now works as an artist selling paintings over the Internet, said he “couldn’t believe his eyes” when he saw his poetry published in newspapers after the funeral. Shocked He had sent the original manuscript of the poem to Prince Charles, and St James’s Palace replied thanking Mr Harkins for explaining its origin. He said: “I wrote it in 1981. It was about a girl and I called it Remember Me. Since then, it’s been changed to suit different people and also altered slightly for funerals. "I was shocked. I only found out about it at the time of the Queen Mother’s funeral and I couldn’t believe it. My wife Jayne and I were reading the newspapers and there it was. "She said to me something like ‘that’s your poem!’. There were changes but they were just words – a word here and a word there. "So I sent the original copy to Prince Charles in May and got a lovely letter of reply.” The reply from Prince Charles’ then private secretary, Stephen Lamport, thanks Mr Harkins for providing the history of the “passage which captured the hearts of so many people when it was published as part of Queen Elizabeth’s funeral service”. At the time the poem was written, he was working at Robertson’s bakery, while living in Scalegate Road, Upperby. Mr Harkins said: “I laugh about it because death is not what it’s about. It wasn’t written for a funeral. I wrote it about a girl I lusted after but she couldn’t stand the sight of me. "It was nothing to do with anyone dying but at the same time, I am humbled by the fact that anyone should use it at a funeral, especially for the Queen Mother. "It was straight from the heart and when I think about it, I’m both proud and not proud. I have sent it to people and they always try to put it into poetry but it isn’t. It was just poetic prose.” It is thought Remember Me – one of many pieces Mr Harkins has sent to publishers and newspapers over the years – found its way onto the Internet and into memorial booklets like the one spotted by the Queen. After the funeral, the poem was subjected to the scrutiny of the national media, with some critics ridiculing its apparent lack of literary merit. The reply from the Prince of Wales’s office continued: “I have no doubt that it will be reproduced on many occasions over the years to come. The Prince of Wales has asked me to send you his very best wishes.” Chris Musson Reporter, The Cumberland News / News & Star An interesting link if you need more information on ‘She is Gone’ and the author http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/ww2/A2174735