3 Gifts an End-of-Life Session Offers As Your Pet Prepares to Cross the Rainbow Bridge

Scroll to the bottom of my homepage and a lime green banner offering priority scheduling for aged/ailing pets may have caught your eye.

“Book a Rainbow Session and jump the line,” it reads, which may have got you thinking one of three thoughts:

  1. You know, I’ve been meaning to schedule for a while now and I think it’s finally time.
  2. No way would I be able to get through that without bawling. Just thinking about it makes me tear up.
  3. Rainbow Session? What does that even mean?

Secondary to the heartache of losing a pet is the sadness and regret that comes with having few or no truly good photos. I hear countless times from my clients that having professional images of their loyal companions is a tremendous comfort as they grieve.

And that’s because the end of life does not mean the end of love.

For those considering a Rainbow Session, you’ve taken the first step in ensuring that you remember the joy and love your best friend has given you over the years, but what exactly is a Rainbow Session, also referred to in the pet photography niche as an end-of-life session?

What is a Rainbow Session?

Rainbow Sessions are designed specifically for pets preparing to cross the Rainbow Bridge due to illness or aging.

These sessions are not designed to be sad, but rather a celebration of the joy and love between you and your pet. Due to their nature, Rainbow Sessions are given scheduling priority whenever possible. Every effort will be made to accommodate your desired session date and I also offer time-sensitive “emergency” sessions that can be scheduled outside of my regular session times when possible.

More importantly, a Rainbow Session often brings with it unexpected blessings that simply can’t be replaced, many of which can only manifest out of the joining of light and dark, sadness and sweetness, and the unavoidable realization of passing time.

Here are three gifts an end-of-life session offers as your pet prepares to cross the Rainbow Bridge.

1. The Celebration of a Life Well-Loved

As your confidant and constant, the one who accepts you unconditionally, your protector and safe space, and probably the only one you’d sacrifice four feet of your bed for just so he can continue to sleep comfortably, he deserves the celebration of a life well-loved.

While the conditions that led you to book an end-of-life session are often accompanied by heartache, grief, and yearning, that doesn’t mean your session has to reflect these feelings. Focusing on the countless happy memories of years made more fulfilling through unforgettable adventures, genuine emotion, and small moments in time is what your Rainbow Session is all about.

What does that look like to you? Perhaps it’s a bucket list day, one last walk on a well-worn trail, or simply sharing some snuggles at sunset on your front porch. I’d love to hear your vision, talk through any concerns you may have, and begin customizing your Rainbow Session during your complimentary pre-session consultation.

2. The Poignant Power of a Moment

There is beauty in slowing down…in the little things that you’ll want to remember forever: the way his tiny paw felt in your hand, his familiar expressions, and those amusing eccentricities, like the way his head tilts and his bottom canine catches on his lip Elvis-style when you ask him a question that grabs his attention.

Time is too slow for those who wait, too swift for those who fear, too long for those who grieve,…but for those who love, time is eternity.

Henry van Dyke

Our time with our furry friends is so fleeting, especially during this time, but we’ll step back from the uncertainty and stress to slow all that down during a calm, relaxed session that can be held on-location at a favorite spot of yours or in the privacy and comfort of your home or backyard.

Rainbow Session in Sewickley for a senior dog and his humans

Your pet—‍and telling his story at his pace—‍is my top priority. If that means walking a little slower or taking more frequent breaks along the way, so be it. Every session is tailored to your furry friend to meet his individual needs and preferences, from the location we choose to the session length and even the images we create.

3. The Comfort of Closure

While I can’t turn back time, what I can deliver are heartwarming images and beautiful memories by which to celebrate the joy and love between you and your pet during what is undoubtedly a difficult time along with a promise to approach our time together with zero judgment and complete compassion.

Those who have experienced a Rainbow Session express great appreciation for having these most precious keepsakes to maintain that irreplaceable connection and reinforce how these photos have helped ease the difficult pain of watching them grow older.

But this isn’t just about you.

It’s giving your pet undivided time by your side, allowing him the contentment and security of seeing you smile as you forget his current circumstances—‍if even just for an hour—‍and reminding him that everything will be OK, at that very moment, and in the future. I can think of few gifts more beautiful than that.

Is a Rainbow Session Right for You?

“The place you suffer, in other words, is the same place you care profoundly—‍care enough to act,” writes Susan Cain in her book Bittersweet: How Sorrow and Longing Make Us Whole.

That said, this type of session certainly isn’t for everyone—‍and that’s fair. Only you will know if investing in a Rainbow Session is the “right” choice.

While I encourage you to capture the memories of your pet while he is happy, comfortable, and looking as you wish to remember him, there may come a time in his life when he has progressed to a point that you don’t want to reminisce about him in that way. Rather than reluctantly forcing yourself into a session that may result in portraits too distressing or heartbreaking to look at after your pet has crossed the Rainbow Bridge, consider taking comfort in spending the remaining time you have left together. You will value that time just as much.

If you find your furry friend beginning his walk to the Rainbow Bridge, please don’t hesitate to reach out. Regardless of whether you book a Rainbow Session with me, another photographer, or not at all, connecting with someone who understands your individual situation and the intense and complicated emotions of anticipatory grief associated with preparing to say goodbye can help you feel understood, connected, and supported.

To schedule your Rainbow Session, even with short notice, contact me via phone or email, and I will make every effort to accommodate your desired session date to take care of you and your pet and ensure a unique, transformative, and meaningful experience that you’ll cherish forever.

Is your session is needed urgently? Priority scheduling is available for aged/ailing pets when you inquire about a Rainbow Session. Choose your adventure below to begin.

Did you enjoy this post? Great, there’s more coming your way because it’s part of a photography blog circle featuring pet photographers from all over the world! To see more content like this and what the next photographer is sharing for our weekly theme, “How to Conduct an End-of-Life Session,” check out Courtney Bryson with CM Bryson Photography in Atlanta, Georgia who shares what you need to know before scheduling an end-of-life photography session for your dog. Continue to click the link at the end of each post in the blog circle until you eventually find your way back here.

10 thoughts on “3 Gifts an End-of-Life Session Offers As Your Pet Prepares to Cross the Rainbow Bridge

    • Bark & Gold Photography says:

      I connected to that quote very much as well. To know the level of love we have with our pets is to know a love that is truly everlasting.

    • Bark & Gold Photography says:

      Thank you! I love capturing silhouette portraits. They convey such connection and tenderness.

  1. Darlene says:

    Beautiful post, Jessica. And the Van Dyke quote…. tears. Thank you for offering these sessions. Our pets make our world and it’s evident your offering these comes truly from your heart.

    • Bark & Gold Photography says:

      You’re welcome! Despite the circumstances that often surround Rainbow Sessions, they truly are my favorite. What a gift to be able to provide Pittsburgh pets and their people with something that will stand for generations.

  2. Tracy Allard says:

    “The end of life does not mean the end of love”. Just this. This says it all. Great information and good advice to help pet parents make the decision to schedule a Rainbow session or not.

    • Bark & Gold Photography says:

      Thank you, Tracy. We can always find ways to love and honor our furry friends even when they’re no longer with us. One Last Network is going to play a huge role in doing that.

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