Bridges are not only built for transportation.  They also contribute as metaphors.  The most poignant bridge metaphor is of providing a crossing to the hereafter.

Pet owners may find comfort in the metaphor of a “Rainbow Bridge”. 

Rainbow Bridge

Rainbow Bridge by Marris Stella, Creative Commons

This legend states that when pets pass away, they cross a rainbow bride to travel to a heavenly meadow. At the meadow, they are restored to good health. The meadow has plenty of food and water and all the pets are happy. But they miss their former owners.  The legend concludes with the thought when the owners pass, they too cross the bridge to be reunited with their beloved pets.

The image is of a bridge connecting to the afterlife. The plot of the Disney movie, Coco, is about the Mexican holiday of the Day of the Dead. In Mexico, once a year, deceased relatives would cross a bridge made of marigolds from the afterlife to visit relatives in the world of the living. 


Marigold Bridge

Marigold Bridge Posted by Erin O’Hara “The  Artists Behind Pixar’s Coco”

Disney’s version of the Land of the Dead is actually very alive. The dead live in a vibrant, complex city, with incredibly rendered visions of infrastructure. In this vision of the afterlife, it is seemingly always party time, and always after dusk.  The glowing city has soaring buildings, other nice bridges not made of flowers, bright lights and music playing on every block. 

City of the Dead

City of the Dead posted by John Frost, The Disney Blog

A Zoroastrian legend is that a bridge provides a connection to the afterlife. To pass on, souls must cross the Chinvat Bridge. The bridge may be narrow or wide depending upon the soul’s actions in life. Those who were evil encounter a narrow bridge and risk being dragged by demons down to an eternal punishment. 

Chivnat Bridge

Chivnat Bridge by Nicole Harper Smith []

The vision of a bridge connecting what we know with what is impossible to know is perhaps comforting in a time of grief.  A bridge is familiar and it represents something that is corporeal, timeless and of grace. In the present world, we think of bridges as permanent connections, even as they age and are maybe not very permanent at all. My daughter, Rachel, wrote a beautiful poem:


The morning sun glints off

Freshly tempered steel

As a new bridge sees its first sunrise

It stands proudly for

All to watch as they

Gaze in wide wonder

At its vastness


The gates are opened

For the first time

Letting some uncaring,

Some attentive persons

Try out the bridge

And see if the engineers

Succeeded in their

Job well done


Days, months, years, pass

Until the morning sun no longer

Glints off its shiny surface

But instead is

Swallowed in its cloudy depths

Then the engineers are called back

To fix the weathered bridge

So a new generation

Can pass through its gates

And travel to the waiting side

(as it appears in "Bridginess: More of the Civil Engineering Life" by Brian Brenner, ASCE Press.)


The idea is that a bridge is immortal, and then it can serve to connect things forever.  Maybe if you fix it enough, it can be. 


Verrazano-Narrows Bridge

Verrazano-Narrows Bridge by Violinbd, Own work, Creative Commons CC BY-SA 3.0