If You Have a Loved One in Prison
1. Do not blame yourself. You are not the reason your loved one is in prison. Even if circumstances were less than ideal, the person still has the God•given ability of choice. Do not allow yourself to feel guilty, even if your loved one (or anyone else) tries to blame you.
2. Remember that you are not the criminal, even if you feel like one when you are frisked at the prison before visitation. Don’t be surprised if you are exhausted after your visit. It is a highly emotional experience.
3. Accept the way things are and allow yourself to grieve. We must accept the fact that our loved one is in prison and that there is nothing we can do about it. Allow yourself to grieve the many losses—trust, respect, security, support, expectations, home—you may be experiencing. Don’t be surprised if you have a range of conflicting emotions, including love/hate, anger/ acceptance, and others.
4. Have a life. Do not be controlled by the fact that your loved one is in prison. Keep life as normal as possible. Have a regular routine. Take time to have fun (without feeling guilty about it). Spend time with other family members and friends. Enjoy a hobby. Keep yourself healthy by eating well and getting regular exercise.
5. Get support. To have a loved one in prison can be an almost overwhelming experience, and what makes it worse is that this is not something you want to share as a prayer request at church. However, you are not alone. The Adult Ministries Department of the North American Division (NAD) offers special resources for the families of incarcerates through Chaplain Cleveland Houser, NAD Prison Ministry consultant and trainer. You may contact Chaplain Houser by calling the NAD office at 301 680 6430 or sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org .org.