Nothing makes adults feel more helpless than seeing a child struggle with grief and loss. But while there are many grief recovery resources for adults, few are targeted at the specific needs of children, particularly younger children. It was to fill this void that Susan Weaver earned her certification as a Grief Recovery Specialist and conceived Rainbow Reach – books, tools and resources developed especially to help children cope with difficult issues such as anxiety and the death of a loved one or pet.
“The idea for Rainbow Reach was born when a friend’s family lost their beloved dog. I’ve raised dogs for years and know that special – awful – heartache," says Weaver. "I wanted to find a way to help the children with their grief.
I knew it was important for children to draw pictures and write about their experience – but I could find no materials or guidance on what to write and draw, or how to turn these activities into an actual recovery process.
As an art director and graphic designer, I decided to help my friend’s children make a scrapbook to remember their pet. I created coloring pages filled with spaces for them to paste photos, draw, and record happy memories with their very special friend. The scrapbook was so helpful in allowing the children to process their grief and begin to heal, that I began thinking about how to use the same concept to address other life-changing events."
The result is the Rainbow Reach organization and its activity books, tools and resources – all focused on helping children handle grief and loss. These resources are backed by the same practices therapists use, yet they are simple and engaging enough for children to use on their own or with a parent or other special person. With these tools, we as adults can help keep a child’s repressed feelings and unanswered questions from having negative consequences for years to come.