Psychological and emotional concerns of adolescents during a parent's terminal cancer are described. Compared to younger children, the adolescents' greater cognitive and empathic capacities allowed them to be more aware of losses and of the parent's physical and emotional pain. Parental illness also precipitated conflict around issues of developmentally appropriate separation. The capacity to use intellectual defenses, search for meaning and deeper understanding, and seek help were potent coping abilities. Contrary to the prevailing view, most of the adolescents coped with stress without resorting to severe acting out.