How To Help And Support A Tween Whose Parent Is Dying

The death of a parent is one of the most difficult experiences a person can go through, and it can be especially hard for tweens. As a parent, friend, or other adult in their life, you may feel helpless when it comes to supporting them during this time. 

However, there are many things you can do to help and support a tween whose parent is dying. This article will provide some tips and advice on how to best help and support a tween in this situation. 

How Do Tween’s Differ From Adults When It Comes to Coping?

When it comes to coping with the death of a parent, tweens are often at a disadvantage compared to adults. This is because they lack the emotional maturity and life experience that adults have, which can make it difficult for them to process their grief in a healthy way.   Additionally, tweens may not have the same level of support from family and friends as adults do, making it even more challenging for them to cope. 

Below are other ways coping with the death of a parent can be more difficult for tweens. 


The loss of a parent is difficult for anyone of any age but tweens even more so. Tweens are at a difficult time in their life. They are still too young to take care of themselves and need parental supervision and guidance. It may be scary and difficult for them to cope with the reality that they no longer have a parent they can rely on. Their future is uncertain, which is scary for anyone. 


Being a tween is hard enough as it is without having to deal with the death of a parent. Tweens are right at the age where they are transitioning from a child to a teenager. Going through puberty affects them physically and emotionally. They are experiencing a change in hormone levels, a change in physical appearance, as well as trying to figure out their own identity. 

Tweens dealing with loss on top of natural changes in their body can cause them great emotional and physical stress.


When a tween's parent is dying, it can be an incredibly difficult and confusing time for them. They may not fully understand the gravity of the situation or how to cope with their emotions. It’s important to remember that they are still children and may not have the emotional maturity to process what’s happening. 

They may not have the maturity or understanding to process their grief in a healthy way. Tweens are more likely to internalize their grief and take it out on themselves through self-destructive behaviors. They may also act out and misbehave. Parental loss in childhood is a traumatic and life changing experience. Tweens need all the help and support they can get during this awful period in their lives. 

Why Should You Share Appropriate Information With Tween’s About a Parent’s Serious Illness?

It is important to share appropriate information with tweens about a parent’s serious illness because it can help them understand and cope with the situation. Tween’s may not be able to process or comprehend the full extent of their parent’s illness, so providing them with age-appropriate information can help them better understand what is happening. 

Sharing information also allows tweens to ask questions and express their feelings in a safe environment. This can help them process their emotions in a healthy way and provide them with the support they need during this difficult time. 


Your tween may not yet be an adult, but they aren't a child either. Tweens are capable of understanding what is going on, even if they can't fully grasp the extent of the situation. Any child has a right to know about the serious illness of a parent because it will impact their life equally as much as it impacts yours or other members of the household. 

Updating your tween about information regarding their parent's health helps them feel included. They will feel as if they are being given respect, which they rightfully deserve in such a situation. 


Giving your tween information about their parent's situation may help alleviate their fears. Not being upfront with your tween about the serious illness of a parent leaves your tween in the dark, which may cause them to fear for the worst. Keeping them updated with accurate information is better than them imagining worse scenarios on their own. 

What Information Should You Share With Your Tween About Dealing With a Serious Illness in a Parent?

While your tween may not need to know every grisly or scary detail about their parent's illness, they should be given enough information to help them understand what the future may hold. Below are some of the important information your tween should know about dealing with a serious illness in a parent. 


Explain to your tween their parent's disease or illness. Avoid using medical jargon and focus on the basics. Be honest about the side effects of the disease or illness and the prognosis (whether it's treatable, contagious, or terminal). It's better that this information come from you than your tween learning about it from the internet which is rife with misinformation. 


The serious illness of a parent will mean a lot of changes in the home environment, especially as the disease or illness progresses. It would be wise to explain to your tween coping with parents illness what they can expect moving forward. 

Some changes your tween may have to face or be aware of can include: 

  • Nurses visiting the home. They'll need to adjust to new people being in their home environment.
  • Medical equipment in the home. Their home landscape may change due to necessary medical equipment their parent will need nearby.
  • Visits to the hospital. Visits to the hospital may become a more regular routine.
  • Traveling due to hospital visits. If their parent's hospital is in another town or city, they will need to adjust to traveling more for hospital visits.
  • Changes in their after school routine. A serious family crisis may mean a change in your tweens after school routine. Some sacrifices might need to be made to ensure their parent gets the best care they can get.
  • More may be required of them. Taking care of a seriously ill person takes a toll on the entire family. Explain to your tween that they may be required to help out more around the house to keep the family functioning.

These changes may be difficult to cope with but assure your tween that you will be there for them to help them cope.

Ways That The Tween Can Help Their Parent

Finally, explain to your tween ways they can help their parent during this difficult time. Remind them that being a caretaker for their parent is not only helpful but a way for them to spend time with their parent. When a parent is sick with a terminal illness, time is precious. Help your tween understand that every second counts. 

Some ways your tween can help their parent can include: 

  • Pushing their wheelchair
  • Reading them a book
  • Taking them a snack or drink
  • Drawing or painting them a picture
  • Sitting by their bedside and keeping them company
  • Helping them take their medications
  • Ensuring they have enough pillows and blankets

Being helpful will allow your tween to spend time with their parent while also giving them an active role in their sick parent's treatment.

What Are Some Ways That a Tween May Express Their Fears or Anxieties With the Situation?

When a tween is facing the death of a parent, it can be an incredibly difficult and overwhelming experience. It is important to recognize that tweens may express their fears and anxieties in different ways. Below are some common ways that a tween may express their feelings. 


A tween may become withdrawn and isolated from friends and family as they try to process their emotions. Though tweens should be allowed their alone time, too much isolation may be harmful for their healing. 


Tweens may become angry and lash out at those around them as they try to cope with the situation. A tween's mind is not fully developed yet, and this will likely be their first time coping with grief. Their emotions will be everywhere, and anger may occur as a result of their emotional imbalance. 


A tween may experience anxiety and panic attacks as they worry about what will happen next. Anxiety and panic attacks are stressful and scary. If your tween begins to experience either or both, they should see a specialist who can help them. 


A tween may feel overwhelmed by sadness and grief as they come to terms with the death of a parent. Sadness is normal and a tween should feel free to express their emotions. 

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A tween may have a difficult time sleeping at night as grief can cause constant intrusive thoughts that lead to insomnia. Lack of sleep can start to affect their school and social life as well as their health. 

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Tweens might experience night terrors or nightmares. Death of a parent is a traumatic event that can leave an impression on the tweens psyche. Night terrors can contribute to insomnia. 


A tween may deal with their grief by showing no emotion at all. This does not mean the tween does not care about their parent's death. It often means they are emotionally overwhelmed and not sure how to express their grief. They may have numbed themself to avoid feeling pain. However, this way of dealing with grief often results in processing their pain in a more self-destructive way. 


The effects of grief on a tween may cause a tween to act up or exhibit bad behavior. Bad behavior can be a coping mechanism for tweens who aren't emotionally mature enough yet to handle their grief in a healthy way. 

Remember that your tween may not always react or grieve in the way you would expect. Tweens are at a difficult age where they are still learning how to cope with the world around them. Now is not a time to be judgmental but to be understanding. 

Tweens and Death: How To Talk to a Tween About Their Parent’s Terminal Illness?

Talking to a tween about their parent’s terminal illness can be an incredibly difficult conversation. It is important to remember that the child may not have the same understanding of death and dying as an adult, so it is essential to approach the conversation with sensitivity and compassion. 

Below are some tips for how to talk to a tween about their parent's terminal illness. 


When it comes to talking to a tween whose parent is dying, it’s important to plan for the conversation before you have it. This can help ensure that the conversation goes as smoothly as possible, and that the tween feels supported throughout. 

First, think about what you want to say and how you want to say it. It’s important to be honest with the tween and to explain the situation in a way that is age appropriate. Explain the illness in terms that they can understand and let them know what treatments are being used to help their parent.


Before you have the conversation with your tween about their parent's serious illness think about the time of day you want to broach the subject. The best time may be in the evening at dinner after a tween has finished their schoolwork. 

Don't bring the subject up in the morning before they go to school or to an important social event. Doing so may make it hard for them to focus on their school day or social obligations. It's best to have the conversation at a time that won't interfere with their personal or school life. Helping your Child Cope with Grief: Meaningful Remembrance Gift Ideas For Kids Returning To School After Loss


When you do speak with your tween, keep the explanation simple. Explain to them in clear terms what is happening with their parent. You don't have to go into too much detail unless necessary for the explanation or unless they ask you to. Keep in mind that your intent with this conversation should not be to scare your tween. 

This doesn't mean you must sugar coat the severity of their dying parent's illness or give them false hope about the outcome. Just be mindful of your tone when you deliver them the message. Show them that you genuinely care about their feelings and understand how hard this is for them. Be kind and gentle but make sure you communicate to them the severity of their parent's terminal illness.


It’s important to provide support for a tween coping with parents illness. This can include providing emotional support, such as listening to their feelings and validating them. It can also include practical support, such as helping with tasks or providing resources. 

Let them know you are there for them by encouraging open communication. Encourage your tween to talk about their feelings and ask questions. This can help them process what is happening and can provide a sense of comfort.

How To Help & Support a Tween Whose Parent Is Dying?

When a tween is facing the death of a parent, it can be an incredibly difficult and emotional time. It is important to provide support and understanding during this difficult period.   Below are some tips on how to help and support a tween whose parent is dying.


Spending quality time with a tween whose parent is dying can help them feel supported and loved during this difficult time. This can include activities such as going for a walk, playing a game, or watching a movie together. 

A dying parent takes a toll on everyone in the home and much of the attention will be focused on the sick parent. However, it's important that your tween does not feel ignored or forgotten. They need more love and support now more than ever and spending quality time with you is one way you can help support them.


It’s important to create a safe space for the tween to express their emotions without fear of judgement or criticism. This can help them feel more comfortable talking about their feelings and processing their grief. 

Reassure them that you are there for them when they need to talk and encourage vulnerability. You can do this by being vulnerable yourself. Share with them some of your own thoughts and feelings on the situation. Being open with your own feelings will make them feel more comfortable expressing their own. 


One of the most important things you can do when preparing a tween for death of a parent is to address their fears about the future. Tweens rely on parents for resources and comfort, it's only natural they would be fearful of what's to become of them when they no longer have their parent around. Fear for the future is a constant source of anxiety for them at this time. 

Calm their fears by reassuring them that you are there for them and will take care of them. Let them know that whatever happens, they will have your love and support. Knowing they have someone to lean on will give them a sense of security and reduce their anxiety and fear.  Preparing Your Teen for the Unimanginable: Coping with the Fear of the Future After Losing A Parent


Try to keep the tween’s routine as consistent as possible. This may include attending school, participating in extracurricular activities, and spending time with friends. This will help them feel more secure and provide a sense of stability during this difficult time. 

Furthermore, grieving tweens want to feel normal and fit in. Although they are going through something incredibly difficult, they don't want to be singled out. Maintaining a sense of normalcy at home and in their social life allows them to feel like they are still a regular tween. 


Socializing with friends can provide a sense of normalcy and comfort for the tween. It can also give them an opportunity to talk about their feelings in a safe space. Friends can provide emotional support, understanding, and companionship that can be invaluable during this period in your tween's life. 

This is especially true when it comes to grief and tweens. Tweens may not feel comfortable talking to adults about their feelings, so they often turn to their friends for comfort and understanding. Friends can offer a listening ear without judgement or criticism, which can be incredibly helpful in times of distress. 


Self-care is important for everyone, especially during times of stress and grief. Encourage your tween to take time for themselves and engage in activities that make them feel relaxed and at peace. This can include things like reading, listening to music, or taking a walk. 

It can also include fun activities that help take their mind off their reality. For example, taking them to a movie or concert, going to the spa, or taking them to a theme park. Encouraging self-care will relieve some of the stress and anxiety your tween may be feeling. 

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It’s important to encourage your tween to use healthy coping mechanisms when dealing with their grief. This can include talking to a therapist, writing in a journal, or engaging in creative activities like drawing or painting. 

These activities can help them process their emotions and provide an outlet for their grief. It’s important to remind them that it’s okay to feel sad and that it’s normal to grieve. 


To help your tween process their grief, it can be beneficial to give them something to do. This could include helping to memorialize their parent in some way. For example, making a scrapbook of memories they shared with their parent or designing t-shirts for a memorial service or event. 

These types of activities are not only helpful for grieving tweens but also allows them to create something tangible that they can keep and look back on when they need it most. It also gives them an outlet for their emotions and helps them focus on something positive instead of dwelling on their sadness.


Above all, it’s important to be patient and understanding when supporting a tween with death. When a teenager is grieving, it is important to let them take the lead in how they process their emotions. Trying to direct what a grieving teenager should do, say, or feel can be unhelpful and may even make them feel worse. 

Instead, it is best to follow where they lead. This could mean simply being present and offering support without trying to force a conversation. If the teen wants to talk about their feelings, then go ahead and listen attentively. However, if they don’t want to talk about it, just be there for them in whatever way they need. 


The effects of grief on a tween can impact a tweens life negatively. It's important to look out for warning signs that may indicate your tween needs more help, such as problems with normal activities, suicidal ideation, self-medicating with drugs or alcohol, and frequent angry outbursts. 

A great way to provide extra support is through a support group. This allows tweens to talk about their loss in a safe and supportive environment, while also knowing that they are not alone in their grief. It can also be beneficial for them to help others by sharing their own story and experiences. 

But if you feel your tween needs more help than you can provide, don’t hesitate to seek professional assistance from a mental health provider or other qualified individual who specializes in working with grieving tweens. 


It's important to respect the grieving process of your tween and not try to rush them through it. Everyone grieves differently and at different speeds; some people may take longer than others to work through their emotions. 

What's important is that you provide a safe space for tweens who are grieving so that they can express themselves without fear of judgement or criticism. By allowing tweens  the freedom to take the lead in their own grief journey, you can help them find healing and peace in their own time. 

Other Helpful Resources That Can Be Used To Help a Tween Cope With a Parent’s Serious Illness

When a tween is facing the serious illness or death of a parent, it can be an incredibly difficult and overwhelming experience. It is important to provide them with support and resources to help them cope with their emotions. Below are some helpful resources for helping a tween cope with death.


One resource that can be used to help a tween cope with a parent’s serious illness or death is counseling. A professional counselor can provide emotional support and guidance as the tween navigates their grief and helps them process their feelings. 


Another resource that can be used to help a tween cope with a parent’s serious illness or death is support groups. Support groups provide an opportunity for tweens to connect with others who are going through similar experiences, which can be incredibly helpful in providing comfort and understanding. 


Books and online resources can also be used to help a tween cope with a parent’s serious illness. Reading books and articles about grief, loss, and coping can provide valuable insight and help the tween better understand their emotions. 


There are plenty of online videos available on platforms like YouTube that may be helpful for a tween experiencing grief. A lot of mental health professionals post content about how to deal with grief that your tween might find helpful. YouTube is free and a convenient way for your tween to learn about how to process their feelings. 

Remembrance Jewelry For A Tween

Remembrance jewelry is a meaningful way to help and support a tween whose parent is dying. It can be a tangible reminder of the love and connection between the parent and child, even after the parent has passed away. 

When choosing remembrance jewelry for a tween, it’s important to consider their age and interests. For example, if they are into sports, you could get them a necklace with the parent’s favorite team logo or colors. Or if they are into music, you could get them a bracelet with the lyrics of their parent’s favorite song. 

Below are some options for tween sized remembrance jewelry you may consider gifting to your grieving tween.


Custom Photo Engraved Pendant Necklace is a personalized and sentimental gift that captures memories through still photos. Photo jewelry comes in many forms including rings, bracelets, watches, necklaces, and even keychains. Photo engraved jewelry is created using lasers which are used to engrave the image onto the materials. 

You can have tween sized photo jewelry made with an engraved picture of their deceased or sick parent. Additionally, you can engrave a custom message onto the jewelry piece personalized for your tween. Photo jewelry is an excellent way to memorialize the deceased while giving your tween a tangible memento of their beloved parent. 


Cremation jewelry for ashes is a special type of jewelry that is designed to hold a small amount of ashes from a loved one. The cremation jewelry typically takes the form of lockets, charms, rings, and pendants. Cremation jewelry can help your tween cope with their grief by providing them with a physical reminder of their beloved parent who has passed away. 


Fingerprint jewelry of deceased for a tween is a type of personalized jewelry that uses fingerprint designs and textures to create pieces such as rings, necklaces, charms, pendants, and bracelets. The concept behind this jewelry is that it captures an individual’s unique fingerprint so that they can be reminded of one’s own personal identity or the imprint left by someone special in our lives. 

You can have a piece of fingerprint jewelry made with your tween's deceased parent's unique thumbprint. In this way, your tween will have something physical that they can see and touch that helps them feel closer to their deceased parent. 


Memorial keychains for ashes are an excellent way to help tweens keep the memory of their parent alive. They are typically made of metal or jewelry-grade materials, and they feature a large medallion with a special phrase, design, or photograph that remembers the individual who has passed away. 

Some memorial keychains give you the option of including a small amount of ashes into the design as well as personalized engraving. Memorial keychains for tweens are perfect for tweens who don't wear jewelry but would appreciate a loving reminder of their deceased parent. 


Cremated ashes into jewelry is a creative way to honor the memory of a loved one who has passed away. Ashes into jewelry is a service that allows family and friends to take a portion of the deceased's ashes and have that small bit of cremains turned into a piece of jewelry such as a necklace, bracelet, or even a ring. 

This type of memorial jewelry gives grieving individuals another tangible item to remember them by whenever they like - something that was once part of them now stays with their loved ones always. Ashes into jewelry for tweens gives them a way to carry their deceased parent with them wherever they go in an inconspicuous way.

Helping A Tween Frequently Asked Questions

How do you talk to your tween about a parent’s serious illness? 

Talking to a tween about a serious illness of a parent can be difficult, and it is best to be honest and straightforward. First, explain the illness clearly, but use age-appropriate language. Secondly, reassure them that steps are being taken to get better, such as seeing doctors or taking medication. 

Finally, answer their questions if they have any and provide additional information if needed. It is important for them to know what is happening in the family and how it will affect their daily lives. Letting children feel secure in times of uncertainty provides security and helps them cope with hard emotions experienced when a family member is ill. 

How much should I explain to a tween if their parent is dying? 

Preparing a tween for death of a parent can be incredibly difficult. First, it is important to have an honest conversation with the tween about what is happening and why it may not be curable. You should explain any prognosis, treatments, or hospice care that will take place when the parent passes away. 

Be sure to reassure them that they will receive the love, support, and help needed for them to cope with this difficult situation. Additionally, encourage open communication by answering whatever questions they have and inform them of options available for them to discuss their emotions and feelings with counselors or trusted adults. 

Should I let my tween help with the care of their dying parent?

It is important to consider your tween's needs when it comes to dealing with their dying parent. Depending on their age, maturity, and relationship with the parent, it can be beneficial for them to be involved in the care. Allowing a tween to help with the care of a dying parent can give them an active role in processing their feelings and helping support the rest of the family. 

If it is done sensitively and with appropriate guidance, it can provide your tween with an opportunity to demonstrate compassion while they say goodbye and adjust to life after the loss.

Is the death of a parent considered childhood trauma?

Yes, the death of a parent is considered childhood trauma. A child who experiences this trauma can face psychological and physical consequences later in life. They may feel sadness, guilt, anger, depression, and anxiety as a result of their parent’s death. 

They might also experience changes in behavior and thinking, as well as difficulty forming trusting relationships with other people. In addition, they can develop physical symptoms such as headaches or stomach aches due to the trauma they experienced. 

How do you know if your tween is grieving? 

It can be difficult to identify if your tween is grieving, especially if they don’t express their emotions in a way that you can recognize. It may be easier to spot behavioral changes such as isolating themselves or acting out. 

They may also experience physical symptoms like chest pain, headaches, and stomach aches. There may also be changes in sleep patterns or appetite. Other telltale signs of grief can include intense sadness, withdrawal, and fatigue. If you notice any of these symptoms, it is important to talk to your tween and offer them support and comfort during this difficult time. 

Helping Your Tween Cope

When a tween is coping with a parent's terminal illness, it can be an incredibly difficult and emotional time. It is important to remember that tweens dealing with loss will grieve differently and there is no right or wrong way to do it.

The best way to help and support a tween in this situation is to provide them with love, understanding, and patience. Allow them to express their feelings openly without judgement and provide them with resources to help them cope. 

February 27, 2023 by Frances Kay