For some, the shock of being sent to jail may play havoc with their psyche. A new and unfriendly environment can wear one down physically and mentally, and your jailed loved one might need external help. Since you are closest to him, what can you do to help him cope with a jail sentence?
Here are seven ways by which your imprisoned spouse or relative can cope better while in jail:
- Give him books to read. If your spouse or kin is in solitary confinement, he will welcome reading a few books. For him, anything from the world out there that could keep him connected with it is a life-saver. Not only do books occupy their hungry minds for a while but are also a temporary escape from their prison lives.
There are volunteer groups that donate books regularly to prisoners, you can send your books to them or send in your books directly.
- Send news clippings. Prison life might be entirely apart from our lives, but nothing could be worse than that. Instead of making your spouse or relative in jail bitter about being imprisoned, you can include him in your life by sending him news of all that’s happening in the world.
Prisons keep people apart from the outside world and from feelings, as if they were part of the external world. So, they might never come to know about a war going on somewhere or a huge storm or any other tragedy of international importance. You can help to bridge this disconnect by sending him printouts of news feeds or gift him a subscription to a magazine he’d be interested in reading, through a prison package service such as Inmate101.
- Remember him on his birthday or your wedding anniversary. Just because he’s been jailed doesn’t make him less related to you than before. Meet him on his birthday or send him a gift or card. Better still, phone him and talk to him. These gestures will lift his sprits and reassure him that there’s someone waiting for him when he leaves prison.
By keeping in touch with him often, you will help him cope with is feelings of fear and loneliness, and of being different from other members of the family. Stay connected with him by calling him, writing letters to him, visiting him and sending emails to him. Make a schedule of visits and take the necessary permissions for them.
- Support him; give him importance. Give him the most importance in your life, after all you must realize that he’s suffering from inside. It’s a rude shock for anyone to be sent to prison, so it’s not easy for anyone to accept such a decision and be brave about it. Realize this and give him all the emotional support someone in his situation would need.
Don’t make him feel guilty for anything he has done or hasn’t because there’s already a lot of guilt inside him. So, don’t increase it, but help him cope with it by being optimistic for him and showing him that he can still make a good life once he’s out of there.
- Be cognizant of his physical and mental health. It’s common for imprisoned people to suffer physically and mentally. The food quality isn’t sufficiently good neither is the atmosphere conducive to good health. Besides, there’s so much negativity around that it’s highly likely that your spouse or relative could be suffering mentally, and silently too.
To understand certain specific mental issues, speak to a mental health counsellor. Revive old memories of love and happiness between the two of you and let him dwell on the good times you shared. Teach him to remain calm and unprovoked by those around him and meditate when possible. Give him all the time he may need to adjust to his new situation.
- When good things happen to you, let him know. He’s going to love being part of your happiness, so when you get lucky or successful, inform him. If you win a raffle or a lottery, tell him how zapped you were with the news.
- Send him photos of your home. Once in prison, it’s difficult to remember the world outside, even a prisoner’s own home. So, if you’ve just painted your home or got a new pup or cat or there’s a new store on your road, it would be nice to show him pictures of it. This way, he won’t think he resides in a completely different world.
Having a member of your family in prison is indeed a very sensitive area to deal with. It needs time, patience and maturity to strike the right chord with the imprisoned person so that he doesn’t feel you’re being patronizing to him. Don’t idolize him, but certainly make him understand that this is a passing phase and he’ll soon be over with it.
Also, that a new and exciting life awaits him once he’s done with his sentence. Until then, be by his side patiently till he tides over this difficult time of his life.