Dec. 26, 2022

Ask Margaret: Dealing with Losing a Parent While You're Raising Kids

Processing our own parent’s terminal illness– while helping our own kids feel better about the approaching loss of a grandparent– can feel overwhelming. Drawing from personal experience, Margaret explains how to get through this difficult time.

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Parenting through grief can be isolating, overwhelming, and debilitating all at the same time. Margaret shares some helpful tactics, both from research and from her own experience, for processing a parent's terminal diagnosis while simultaneously helping your children understand the situation.

A listener wrote in to say:

"Good morning! I found your podcast in 2020 and love listening to you both. I am a 39-year-old mom of 2 girls (6 and 4). My mother was recently given a terminal diagnosis (specifically ALS). Margaret, you have spoken about the loss of your mother on the podcast. I was wondering if you have any tips or advice on how to handle the loss of your mother while also parenting young children (including how to keep her memory alive, since they are so young)."

Margaret explains that it's important to process your feelings alone or with another adult before taking on your children's questions and feelings. But at the same time, it's important to speak openly and frankly with your children about what's happening and what will happen once their grandparent passes away.

In the meantime, be intentional about memory making with your parent and include your children in that process. Margaret and Amy have both used Storyworth, a keepsake-making service that gives relatives a way to share meaningful memories and advice with younger generations. Storyworth is also a sponsor of our podcast, so if you go to, you can get $10 off.


Deborah Serani for Psychology Today: "The Do's and Don'ts of Talking With a Child About Death"

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