Coping with

Coping with Death

Supporting Children Grieving a Death

Though death is a fact of life, it can be hard for anyone to experience this kind of loss, let alone a child. Helping children cope with death is a difficult process that involves empathy and patience.

How does death affect children?

For children, the process of grieving the death of a loved one can start with denial. The child may not be able to understand the concept of death and its implications, even to the point of disbelief. Grief may appear as feelings of guilt or responsibility. Young children may make attempts to search for their loved one in an effort to find them and bring them back. For a child, coping with the death of a parent is especially difficult, as other members of the family are in the process of grieving as well.


Rainbows for All Children has helped more than 3.5 million youth over the past 38 years, and continues to serve all children, regardless of age, race, gender or financial ability. If you know a child grieving from a loss, click here to find Rainbows programming near you. The Rainbows program is free for all participants anywhere in the world that groups meet.

By joining the Rainbows community as a facilitator or a participant, you gain access to an effective and engaging curriculum, a community of peers for those experiencing a loss, and materials and training to help facilitators prepare.

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We provide resources for all forms of grief.


Of all the children in America, around 15% will experience the death of a family member or sibling. Even though death is ultimately a fact of life, it can be hard for anyone to experience this kind of loss, let alone a child.


There are about 1.25 million divorces per year in the United States. Of all U.S. children, 50% will witness the breakup of their parents’ marriage, and almost 50% of those children will also see the breakup of a parent’s second marriage.


One in 28 children will have a parent become incarcerated before their 18th birthday. Approximately half of children with incarcerated parents are younger than 10 years old.


When a parent, caregiver or sibling is deported, or even when there is the threat of deportation, the whole family suffers.

Military Deployment

Parental deployment is a form of loss that 3% of American children experience. This can be a very difficult adjustment for children, who may not be able to see or speak to that parent regularly, and who also may experience a great deal of stress when worried about their parent or guardian’s safety.

Community Crisis

Community crises, such as natural disasters, pandemics or political unrest, cause confusing emotions for children. Rainbows’ programs can help children navigate difficult times and provide a sense of stability.

Significant Illness

A child coping with the significant illness of a parent, caregiver or sibling can face many challenges.

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Rainbows’ programs help children grieving the loss
of a parent or guardian due to death, divorce/separation,
deployment, deportation, incarceration or trauma.