If Your Friend Has a
Loved One in Prison               [Main Story]
1 Keep their trust.
If someone has confided in you that their loved one is in prison, realize that it took courage for them to share. Be certain not to break their trust.

2  Remember that family members are victims,not criminals.
Your friend is probably experiencing a lot of shame and bewilderment. It's important to remember that he or she is not a criminal, even though they have an incarcerated relative. Family members are actually victims either directly or indirectly or their loved one's crime. 

3  Do a lot of non judgmental listening. People who have incarcerated loved ones go through a grief cycle similar to those who have lost someone in death—denial, anger, bar•gaining, depression, acceptance. It’s very difficult, however, to have complete resolution because the family must continually deal with this living reality. Phrases such as “That must really hurt” or “I’m so sorry you are having to go through this” are helpful.

4  Include them in social activities.
Treat your friend as a regular person, understanding that sometimes they will not want to talk about the incarcerate. Invite them to your home and to other social occasions.

5  Find creative ways to help.
It is not unusual for families of prisoners to be under financial strain. Find creative ways to help (which may not always involve cash). Offer to drive them somewhere. Bring a “care basket” of needed household and personal items along with a special “I am thinking of you” card. Fresh fruit is always nice. Be creative. 


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