Tu Nidito Teens Create a Holiday Support Guide

Tu Nidito Teens Create a Holiday Support Guide

Most people think of the holiday as a time of joy, surrounded with the love of family and the warmth of the season. For others the holidays bring sadness as they are flooded with memories of past holidays. At Tu Nidito, we know for many of our kids the sadness is profound. During the month of December our groups focus on how to navigate the holidays while you are grieving the death of a special person. We encourage authentic feelings and acknowledge and validate every individual and their feelings, whatever they are: joy, sadness, anger and regret. 

Tu Nidito teens helped each other by sharing how they would support someone who was having a hard time during the holidays. Their answers are wise, relevant and so helpful.

What is a good way to bring a smile to someone’s face when they are having a really hard time and missing their special person during the holidays?

Give them necessary space.

“Surprise them with something they like, hot chocolate for example.”

“Ask them what they would like to do.”

“Surprise them with their favorite food.

“Talk to them and kind of distract them with things they want.”

“Surround yourself with people you know will make you happy and you can start new traditions with them instead of focusing on the old ones.”

“Listen to Music.”

If you could create a holiday comfort kit for someone your age who is grieving, what items would you include?

“Stress ball or fidget spinner.”

Music and headphones. Yummy holiday food!”

“A notepad, something that reminded me of them and music they would listen to.

Something to hug.

“Friends, food, movies, a comfy place and board games.”

“A phone, AirPods and an art kit.”

What can you do if you feel overwhelmed and need a break?

“Go outside. Call someone comforting. Find a dog!

Spend time alone. Binge a comfort show or movie.”

“Stay in my room alone, use the comfort kit and hangout with animals.

“Go to an empty room.”

Breathe, calm down. Thinking helps me not to be irrational.”

“Listen to music and go to my room and take deep breaths. Go to the lake park.”

What are some kind or helpful things to say to someone like you who is grieving the death of a special person?

I am here for you. I understand. Can I do anything to help?”

“Ask them: ‘what was their name?’ ‘What can I do to make you feel better?’”

“That they are not alone.”

“I’m sorry your mom died, I hope you’ll feel better. I am here for you.



Dia De Los Muertos at Tu Nidito

Dia de Los Muertos is a tradition celebrated at Tu Nidito, it is truly one of the most special events offered. It is a night where families gather at the little nest and bring an ofrenda, tell the stories of their loved ones and connect with other families about their memories. It reveals a  unique space to grieve as a family and to hold each other as we celebrate the life of those who are no longer with us.

The air fills with laughter and joy as families arrive. Each family takes a turn  finding a spot on the table for their ofrenda. Memories come in all shapes: pictures, stuffed animals, shirts, pillows and flowers. Children go running to the playground, parents watch them from a safe distance. Through my lens I try to capture the beauty of joy from these  families, who I know are grieving. As I see them, I ask myself: who are they thinking of? Who was their loved one? Are they nervous to share? Or possibly looking forward to it?

Ofrenda table with memories of loved ones.

When the Group Coordinator comes to the microphone, families take  their seats. The laughter from the children stops, opening the way to the anticipated nostalgia this night holds.

A poem is read, A Litany of Remembrance – We Remember Them by Rabbi Sylvan Kamens and Rabbi Jack Riemer.

Silence continues to fill the space until Bruce Phillips picks up his guitar, turning the silence into melody:

Bruce Phillips, volunteer at Tu Nidito.

You’ve been taken from me, and I am still here.

Though you loved me I know so straight and so clear

And I feel like I’m dreaming, hold my hand through the night


And I’ll never forget you, but I’m scared that I might

You groaned at my jokes and you laughed at my songs

You made up great excuses when I did things wrong

And when you went away, you’d ask me along

Except for this last time……so long


Filled to the brim, filled to my eyes

Your heart and mine

You’ll always be with me

And I’ll see you sometime

The melody blends into the night, into the wind and swirls around everyone. Families hold on to each other. Tears roll down our cheeks, we feel our hearts moving. There is no other thought in our minds but of that special person. There is no other wish, but to hold them one more time. There is no greater desire than to connect with them in that moment. There’s no stronger feeling but the love we all have for our special person.

With the song ending, families gather courage and one by one stand up to share their loved one’s story. With each story, the memories of our own special person rise to the surface. Through the lens of my camera, I try and capture the tears, the napkin over someone’s eye, the immediate sadness this grief has brought to them. But as soon as they talk about their loved one, their eyes spark, they smile and, even with a broken voice, they go on to share the life of their special person who has died.

Grandmas, grandpas, mothers, fathers, husbands, wives, sons, daughters.

One by one stories unfold about them, who they were, their favorite things to do, their favorite food, their personality.

Funny, loving, kind, hard-working, generous, smart, fierce, strong.

It is such a beautiful feeling, that in a space among strangers, we can share this moment. We find the relief in connecting with each other’s grief. We do not compare, there’s no greater or lesser grief, there is just grief, in each of us and our journey through it. We are reminded that we are not alone in the feelings of despair, or sadness and the moments of joy.

When everyone has shared, the music fills the night, again, I have to step away and wipe some tears. This night has brought countless memories and feelings. It has brought comfort and a special way to celebrate the life of our loved ones. It has brought joy in thinking of them.

As we share food, there is a slight change, it feels like everyone is closer to each other. As I take more pictures of families, I capture the community Tu Nidito has nurtured and supported. A community in which the grieving come together to remember and honor our loved ones in an open space designed for those who want to share more…

…And also for those in the back, too shy to come forward, sharing their story in their hearts.

We talk about how we feel at Tu Nidito

We begin to heal at Tu Nidito

We tell our story, sing our song

We found a place where we belong

We belong at Tu Nidito

Written by Meredith Villaseñor, Tu Nidito Staff Member, in loving memory of her sister Anapaola.

Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

Approximately 1 in 285 children will develop cancer before reaching the age of 20.
Cancer remains the #1 cause of death resulting from a disease in children in the United
States. There are an estimated 300,000 children diagnosed with cancer each year
globally*. September marks the month to bring awareness to these statistics and to
shine a light on pediatric cancer.

Tu Nidito makes an impact on children who are diagnosed with a serious medical
condition. In 2021, 71% of the children that came to Tu Nidito for services had been
diagnosed with cancer. Through one-on-one support, those children and their families
are given support in developing coping and age appropriate communication techniques
and comfort from our Support Specialists.

This month, Tu Nidito has joined with other organizations across the nation by
symbolically placing gold bows throughout our grounds in recognition of this month’s
Childhood Cancer Awareness designation. We would like to share with you two
poignant stories of children that came to Tu Nidito searching for support and comfort
following their diagnosis.

"Cancer Doesn't Dictate our Lives."

A 6-year-old child came to Tu Nidito after relapsing for a third time with leukemia. After
taking immunotherapy, she was again going to school and everything seemed
well—until she relapsed for a fourth time at the age of 10 years old. At that point, she
needed a Bone Marrow Transplant. Tu Nidito’s Support Specialist has followed one-on-
one with this case and still provides support for the family including the donor of the
Bone Marrow, her brother. Despite the uncertainty and the fear, the family has gone
through, the mother doesn’t let this bring them down and shared inspiring words about
their story:

“We refused to let this cancer dictate how we were going to live. How our child is
going to live. We live life, you have to, you can’t let cancer or your child illness tell
you how to live your life.”

“We are going to continue going on trips, we are going to show her a great time! We
are making amazing beautiful memories with her and the family.”

We couldn’t have done this without Tu Nidito, without our Support Specialist that works
with my children. Knowing that whenever I needed support there is an organization
that helps us grieve through this process.

“Our child continues to do great. She is amazing and strong,

we get our strength from her.


A 9-year old child came to Tu Nidito in December 2021 after being recently diagnosed with Leukemia. When the new year, 2022 started she began to work one-on-one with her Support Specialist. She decided she wanted to concentrate on ONE word for the new year. She chose the word HOPE. Celeene was then encouraged to write a poem using this word and what meaning it had to her.

For three consecutive years due to the pandemic and her medical condition, she was unable to attend school in person. She is now finally able to return to school as a 5th grader. During her most recent one-on-one session with her Support Specialist, she was given a list of words that described nature and she was asked to choose one that symbolized her life and feelings it evoked. She chose the word Flower, and explained:

Flowers start as a bud but then bloom into something new and beautiful. They are not afraid to let their colors show and they always show you the way towards happiness.

Tu Nidito continues to bring support and comfort to children going through cancer or any other serious medical condition. Our one-on-one Support Specialists are here to help ease this process and to remind them that they are not alone. Learn more information about how our support programs for serious medical conditions can help you and your family by visiting https://tunidito.org/support-for-families/serious-illness/


Tools for Handling Back-to-School Season While Grieving

Tools For Handling Back-to-School Season While Grieving.

After a long summer break, it can be challenging to return to a school routine. When you combine the element of grief, it can be particularly challenging for the entire family. Children and teens who are processing their own grief will likely find this change in their day-to-day activities overwhelming and with that experience increased anxiety. If you are a parent or caregiver of a grieving child or teen, the feeling of being overwhelmed might be familiar.

Tu Nidito offers one-on-one and group support twice every month to children and families going through a serious medical diagnosis or the death of a loved one. Each time, our Support Specialists are there to provide support and comfort in a warm and welcoming environment. 

Here are some tools we hope you find useful to practice at home during this back-to-school season:

1. Take care of yourself.

Any sort of activity while grieving might seem difficult, but any steps you can make to practice self care will make a difference. Children feel better supported and understood by a healthy adult.

2. Listen.

Be there and take the time to listen. By being open with your own experience of grief and sharing memories and stories, it will open the door for deeper communication. Even when they have nothing to say at a given point, remind them that you are there to listen should they want to share their feelings.

3. Create Your Own Little Nest.

 You can pick a spot in your home for you and your child or teen that feels comforting and safe. Take a moment after or before school to let them express and release heavy emotions should they arise. This practice can also be a great source of comfort on difficult days such as birthdays, holidays and anniversaries. 

4. Take it one day at a time.

When grieving, most of the intense parts of it take longer to overcome than one might think. Be patient with yourself and provide the same approach to your child or teen. Celebrate small achievements or progress made at school. These may include making a new acquaintance or praise from a teacher.

This adorable book explores a unique way to connect with your kiddos when they are away. For younger children, school is a big change from their daily routine at home. Tu Nidito’s “Little’s” group read this book during August. It can give them the courage and comfort when they feel heavy emotions during their grief in the school day.

We hope that you find these tools useful during this back-to-school season, and will serve as a reminder that you are not alone. 

Tu Nidito employs a trained Community Outreach Director who provides resources and education to the Southern Arizona community including school personnel, social services, and community organizations. We are here for our community. If you would like to arrange a workshop for your organization you can request it here. 

Full articles and more detail can be found by visiting these websites: 



Expressing Grief through Art

Expressing Grief Through Art

Art Room

Tu Nidito’s facilities offer a variety of ways to support youth in expressing themselves through play including a vast playground with swings, slides, a basketball court and play-house. Beyond this, we have specialized rooms including a Volcano Room for letting out big emotions through physical play; an Imagination Room for expressive play; and an Art Room that let’s kids and teens explore visual self-expression. 

Beyond these unique spaces, Tu Nidito’s support groups offer specialized curriculum to help children and teens acknowledge, understand, and process common emotions brought on by grief including sadness, guilt, anger, and uncertainty.  Recently, our program team and volunteers led an art activity that encouraged reflection about the special person in our life who died:

My grief is like…..

Kids and teens then created their own unique piece of art using colors that represent their feelings and special people. While some were bright and cheerful, others were darker and somber; each piece unique and expressive.

If you are looking for an activity to help process grief, this activity can easily be done from the comfort of your home using art supplies such as paper, crayons, or paint.

Tu Nidito is a place of comfort, hope, and support for children and families experiencing grief. Learn more about our services here or call (520) 322-9155.

Father’s Day: Supporting Grieving Hearts

 Like many holidays and milestones, Father’s Day can be tricky for those grieving a loved one. For some, it brings a day of celebration and togetherness; for others, a poignant reminder of loss and grief.  If you have a child in your life who is grieving a dad or father-figure, here are some meaningful ways you can offer support.

For more information about programs or resources relating to bereavement support for children, please contact Tu Nidito (520) 322-9155.

13 Tips to Support Grieving Children and Teens for Children’s Grief Awareness Day

13 Tips to Support Grieving Children and Teens

Children’s Grief Awareness Day is Thursday, November 17, 2022

In Arizona, 1 in 12 children will experience the death of their parent or sibling by the time they reach adulthood (Judi’s House Childhood Bereavement Estimation Model, 2022). So today, in recognition of Children’s Grief Awareness Day, we are sharing 13 tips to consider when supporting grieving children and teens. Grief is the normal and natural response to loss or change, such as the death of a loved one or the diagnosis of a serious medical condition.

  1. Listen; give them opportunities to share how they are feeling about the loss they have experienced.
  2. Talk about the person who has died or is sick; share memories, stories, or photos as you are able. By doing these things you give children permission to share their own memories and feelings.
  3. Remember, it’s important to remember that grieving children and teens want: To understand what has happened when a significant death or diagnosis has occurred, and to be able to express their feelings.
  4. Be honest and clear; Explain the circumstances using age-appropriate language and let the child’s questions guide what else to share.
  5. Avoid using euphemisms when someone dies, such as “passed away,” “lost,” “crossed over,” or “went to sleep,” as these can confuse children.
  6. Answer their questions; sometimes you may have to answer the same question over and over to help them make sense of what is happening.
  7. Children may respond to grief in several ways, including emotional reactions, physical reactions, cognitive reactions, behavioral/social reactions, and spiritual reactions. Characteristics of grief can be similar within particular age groups, but everyone still grieves differently. Read more about these various grief reactions in the Childhood Grief brochure.
  8. Admit when you don’t have an answer; saying “I don’t know” is OK! And, find the answer for them when possible.
  9. Offer consistency in routines to create predictability.
  10. Provide physical outlets to release energy and big emotions.
  11. Be flexible in your expectations at school and home because grief takes tremendous emotional and physical energy.
  12. Instead of saying “I know how you feel,” consider saying, “I’m very sad too.” Similarly, instead of saying “You’ll be okay,” consider saying, “Your thoughts, feelings and reactions are okay just so long as you are not causing harm to yourself or others.
  13. Remember, grief is not linear. There is no timeframe; each individual person has their own unique grief journey.

These tips have been pulled from Tu Nidito’s brochure, Childhood Grief: Tips for supporting children grieving a serious medical condition or the death of a loved one. For FREE printed copies of this brochure, please contact Tu Nidito at (520) 322-9155 or [email protected].

Virtual Día de los Muertos Ofrenda

Virtual Community Ofrenda

(Ofrenda de Comunidad Virtual)

Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is celebrated on November 1 or 2 in Mexico and other Latin American countries and communities. It is a day to remember and honor the dead and welcome their spirits home for a night. The emphasis of this tradition is on the joy of life rather than the sadness of death.

An important part of this celebration includes creating an Ofrenda or Memorial Table. In short, this is a beautiful culmination of photos and mementos to remember and honor loved ones who have died.

Tu Nidito invites you to join us in participating in our Virtual Community Ofrenda! With this project, Tu Nidito’s hope is that together we can honor and remember the special people in our lives who have died and celebrate the joys of life. You can participate by submitting a photo of a special loved one in your life who has died, or a picture of an object or memento that reminds you of them. We’ll include your submission in the gallery below.

If you have questions or need assistance with submitting your image, please contact Dana at [email protected] or (520) 322-9155

Día de los Muertos se celebra el 1 o 2 de noviembre en México y otros países y comunidades de América Latina. Es un día para recordar y honrar a los muertos y dar la bienvenida a sus espíritus a nuestra casa por una noche. El énfasis de esta tradición está en la alegría de vivir más que en la tristeza de la muerte.

Una parte importante de esta celebración incluye la creación de una Ofrenda o Mesa Conmemorativa. En resumen, este es un hermoso conjunto de fotos y recuerdos para recordar y honrar a los seres queridos que han fallecido.

¡Tu Nidito te invita a unirte a nosotros para participar en nuestra Ofrenda de Comunidad Virtual! Con este proyecto, la esperanza de Tu Nidito es que juntos podamos honrar y recordar a las personas especiales en nuestras vidas que han muerto y celebrar las alegrías de la vida. Puede participar enviando una foto de un ser querido especial en su vida que haya fallecido, o una foto de un objeto o recuerdo que le recuerde a el/ella. Incluiremos su envío en la galería a continuación.

Si tiene preguntas o necesita ayuda para enviar su imagen, comuníquese con Dana en [email protected] o (520) 322-9155.

Click on a photo below to read its description.

Selecciona una foto para ver la descripción. 

Giant Jenga: A Game About Grief

Giant Jenga

A Game About Grief

Throughout the summer months of 2021, we have hosted outdoor, monthly intergenerational groups here at Tu Nidito. Rather than dividing up into peer-to-peer groups, families stay together as a unit for the duration of the group to participate in a guided activity that relates to grief. August curriculum at each intergenerational bereavement group gathering included a game of Giant Jenga! 

Like the traditional game of Jenga, each player removes a block from a tall tower, then carefully places it at the top until the stack inevitably comes crashing down. However, Giant Jenga at Tu Nidito includes a special twist and each Jenga block is marked with a number, and every number corresponds to a question that the player may answer. Once the player who drew their block answers the question or passes, other participants and family members can share their response to that question, too. Of course, any player is invited to say “I pass” if they’d prefer.

You can design your very own version of Giant Jenga for your family and share it with us! Simply label a set of Jenga blocks with numbers and write out a corresponding question list. To ensure that questions are age appropriate for each player, we’ve put together separate question lists to encourage sharing for Littles (3.5 – 7 year olds), Middles (8 – 12 year olds), and Teens/Adults (13 and older). You will see the topics on these lists include fun “get-to-know-you” questions, and deeper questions including some about what your special person was like, and your personal grief experience. Here are some examples to get you started, so that you may play your own game of Giant Jenga – grief edition, at home!

1. Do you have any pets?
2. If you had three wishes, what would you wish for?
3. What makes you feel worried?
4. Did you get to say goodbye to your special person before they died?
5. Where do you think your special person is now?

1. If you were invisible, where would you go and what would you do?
2. Do you ever dream about your special person? What are these dreams like?
3. What is your favorite snack food?
4. What did your special person look like?
5. How do you feel about going back to school?

1. What is your favorite type of music or favorite song?
2. What do you wish you could have said to your special person before they died?
3. What do you wish other people understood about grief?
4. What is something that you do really well?
5. What do you miss about your special person?

What questions would you add to the list? Show us what you come up with by tagging us on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/tunidito) or emailing [email protected].

Durante los meses de verano de 2021, hemos organizado grupos intergeneracionales mensuales al aire libre aquí en Tu Nidito. En lugar de dividirse en grupos de diferentes edades, las familias permanecen juntas durante grupo para participar en una actividad guiada que se relaciona con el duelo.

¡El plan de estudios de agosto en cada reunión de grupo de duelo intergeneracional incluyó un juego de Giant Jenga! Como en el juego tradicional de Jenga, cada jugador quita un bloque de una torre alta, luego lo coloca con cuidado en la parte superior hasta que la pila inevitablemente se derrumba. Sin embargo, Giant Jenga en Tu Nidito incluye un toque especial y cada bloque de Jenga está marcado con un número, y cada número corresponde a una pregunta que el jugador puede responder. Una vez que el jugador que sacó su bloque responde la pregunta o pasa, otros participantes y miembros de la familia también pueden compartir su respuesta a esa pregunta. Por supuesto, cualquier jugador está invitado a decir “paso” si lo prefiere.

¡Puedes diseñar tu propia versión de Giant Jenga para tu familia y compartirla con nosotros! Simplemente etiquete un conjunto de bloques de Jenga con números y escriba la lista de preguntas correspondiente. Para asegurarnos de que las preguntas sean apropiadas para la edad de cada jugador, preparamos listas de preguntas específicas para los Littles (de 3,5 a 7 años), los Middles (de 8 a 12 años) y los adolescentes / adultos (a partir de 13 años). Verá que los temas en estas listas incluyen preguntas divertidas para “llegar a conocernos” y preguntas más profundas, incluidas algunas sobre cómo era su persona especial y su experiencia personal de duelo. Aquí hay algunos ejemplos para comenzar, para que pueda jugar su propio juego de Giant Jenga – edición de duelo, ¡en casa!

Pequeños (Littles):

  1. ¿Tienes mascotas?
  2. Si tuvieras tres deseos, ¿qué desearías?
  3. ¿Qué te preocupa?
  4. ¿Llegaste a despedirte de tu persona especial antes de que muriera?
  5. ¿Dónde crees que está tu persona especial ahora?

Medianos (Middles):

  1. Si fueras invisible, ¿a dónde irías y qué harías?
  2. ¿Sueñas alguna vez con tu persona especial? ¿Cómo son estos sueños
  3. ¿Cuál es tu botana favorita?
  4. ¿Cómo era tu persona especial
  5. ¿Cómo te sientes al volver a la escuela?


  1. ¿Cuál es tu tipo de música o canción favorita?
  2. ¿Qué te hubiera gustado haberle dicho a tu persona especial antes de que muriera?
  3. ¿Qué te gustaría que otras personas entendieran sobre el duelo?
  4. ¿Qué es algo que haces muy bien
  5. ¿Qué extrañas de tu persona especial?

¿Qué preguntas agregarías a la lista? Muéstranos lo que se te ocurrió etiquetándonos en Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/tunidito) o enviando un correo electrónico a [email protected].

My Tu Nidito Story: Pam Fick

My Tu Nidito Story: Pam Fick

Celebrating 25 Years of Comfort, Hope & Support

February 2021

If there’s anything we need more of in 2021, it’s stories that connect us and bring warmth to our hearts. In celebration of Tu Nidito’s 25th anniversary, we’ll be hosting interviews here on the Tu Nidito Blog highlighting some of the amazing members of our community. To kick off this special segment, we’ll hear from Pam Fick, an alumna of our bereavement program and current volunteer group facilitator.

What’s your name and where are you from?

My name is Pam Fick and I have lived here in Tucson for 33 years so this is home. I have also lived in Michigan, Kentucky, Colorado, and New Mexico.

Tell us how you first became involved with Tu Nidito!

I am a nurse and currently work as nursing faculty at the University of Arizona College of Nursing for our accelerated Master’s Entry Program. I am also in school to obtain my Doctor of Nursing Practice degree.  I am married to my husband (22 years this March) and have a son who is 12. We have a terrier-mutt named Jack and an African tortoise named Mack.

I became involved with Tu Nidito when we participated as a family after the death of my mother-in-law.  I was so impressed with the organization and the amazing work that goes into supporting the kids I asked about volunteering after we closed.

What is your role as a volunteer?

I am an English-Speaking Adult Group Facilitator. Just as Littles, Middles and Teens have peer-to-peer support groups, caregivers and parents need a similar space to work through their grief. I have worked with a few different Adult Groups.

Currently, I facilitate a support group for adults. The families that I work with are grieving the serious diagnosis of a parent. Unfortunately, there are times when these families experience the death of that parent. I have more recently started to facilitate support groups for these newly bereaved families as well. It has been so great being a part of these groups, even through Zoom.

What makes you want to volunteer in this way?

Tu Nidito is a special place with amazing people all supporting one another through some very difficult times. Although the circumstances that bring us to Tu Nidito are very sad, there is so much joy that comes from support groups. Each family member has a space to share their story in a meaningful way.

The adult participants are often wearing many hats and doing so many things; giving them a place where they can just focus on themselves and their kids for an hour is really powerful. It’s touching to hear stories of their special people and also how they are working through their own grief process. There are many tears but there are also many smiles and laughter.  Also, seeing the participants lift one another up and support one another is awesome. It’s truly a privilege to be part of the groups.

Tell us a story about a memorable interaction or experience you had at Tu Nidito.

I once had to “close” from one of my adult groups because I had to switch which days I volunteer due to my schedule. The kindness and comments from the participants about how I impacted them during my time with the group were so touching.

 I felt honored to be a part of what they share during the group and they were telling me how much I touched them! It made me realize the impact we have as volunteers and that just being present and holding space for people can really make such a difference.

I also have many great memories of bringing my son when we attended as a family. He would always connect with the volunteers and have so much fun-all while feeling safe to share feelings. It really helped him process and navigate his grief.

Pam pictured with her son and husband

Thank you, Pam, for sharing your Tu Nidito Story! To learn more about the programs Pam participated in and now facilitates, click here.