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Childhood Bereavement: Cause of Death

Two National Key Topic Reports explore childhood bereavement by cause of death.

The Leading Causes of Death Report focuses on the top 5 leading causes of death for youth and adults, respectively, and provides the percentage and number of children bereaved by each cause. Examining childhood bereavement through this lens offers opportunities for collaboration and advocacy. The information encourages discussion and considerations about how to tailor care to the unique needs of each child and family.

Building off this data, the COVID-19 Pandemic Impact Report provides a deeper dive into the significance of the pandemic on the field of childhood bereavement. Findings highlights staggering 2020 increases in childhood bereavement due to the death of a parent by drug overdose and homicide by gunshot alongside the rise in bereavement due to COVID-19 from 2020 through August 2022.   

Childhood Bereavement: A Critical Issue

An estimated 5.6 million children in the U.S. will experience the death of a parent or sibling by age 18.

Childhood grief has profound impacts on youth, families, and communities. In partnership with the New York Life Foundation, we developed the Childhood Bereavement Estimation Model (CBEM) to understand the magnitude of the issue. The CBEM approximates rates of U.S. children and youth who will experience the death of a parent or sibling by the time they reach adulthood.

This information helps communities evaluate the impacts of unaddressed grief, campaign for grief resources, and ultimately, contribute to improved outcomes for grieving families everywhere.

Join us in elevating childhood bereavement to a critical public priority. You can keep kids on track to health and healing by utilizing our CBEM resources to educate your community and increase awareness.

CBEM Reports

CBEM Data Tables

CBEM Toolkit

Custom CBEM Reports & Additional Services

CBEM Methodology & Sources

CBEM Key Topics

Childhood Bereavement in the United States

2022 CBEM State results vary greatly across the nation. West Virginia has the highest concentration of bereaved children with 12.4% experiencing the loss of a parent or sibling by age 18. California has the lowest concentration with 5.9%. National, state, and county-level findings help advocates better understand and support the unique needs of bereaved children in their communities.

How many children and youth will be bereaved in YOUR state? Hover over the map for a snapshot of CBEM rankings and rates. Click on a state to view and download the full report.


Childhood Bereavement: The Cost of Inaction

Research shows that bereaved children are at an increased risk of disrupted development. Unaddressed childhood grief and trauma can lead to short- and long-term difficulties including decreased academic performance, mental health issues, and early mortality.

Timely support introduced at critical junctions aids in healthy development. Each day, bereaved youth turn to peers and adults for assistance in managing complex grief reactions. Data from the CBEM reinforces the need for access to grief-focused education and programming that helps communities respond compassionately and confidently.


Judi’s House/JAG Institute partnered with the New York Life Foundation to help support grieving children and families by creating the Childhood Bereavement Estimation Model.

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