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The Grief of Incarceration

the grief of incarceration

“If we love, we grieve. That's the deal. That’s the pact. Grief is the terrible reminder of the depth of our love and, like love, grief is non-negotiable.” - Nick Cave 

There are moments of profound pain in our lives. The moment a loved one goes to prison is, without doubt, one of them. The aching sense of loss is accompanied by a feeling of despair with unquenchable depth. 

For anyone who has experienced this painful season, it goes without saying that it will take time to recover. When a loved one goes to prison, it feels like a loss. Although they are still living, the life you lived together will change so dramatically it will feel like a loss. 

Learning to overcome Grief

Although everyone grieves in their own way, there is a process to grieving. In the moment it may feel like this moment will never end, but there is hope. In fact, the process of grieving is cyclical. Grief, in all its faces, is known to all because we have all experienced pain. This reality should give you hope. Hope that you, like so many others, have recovered and become stronger in the midst of this moment in your life.

overcoming grief of incarceration

For those of you who are in this moment, here is the cycle of healing from grief.

Shock – This is an unavoidable moment. It may last a matter of minutes or even months. 

Denial – Unlike shock, many people are stuck in denial. Denial can be a rejection of the situation they are faced with. This denial can often seem like a coping mechanism that prevents the painful reality from setting in. At some point, denial is met with reality and grief will set it. 

Anger – Once the shock wears off, you will be faced with the grim reality that your loved one is going to prison. This inescapable reality will affect people in different ways. 

Grief – This is a normal and healthy process that you must embrace in order to heal. No one should have to go through grief alone. While you are grieving, you should seek out someone you can trust to help you process your emotions. Once you are able to, begin to pick up the pieces of your heart and begin the process of helping your family heal from this moment in their lives. 

Acceptance – When you are in acceptance, you are able to accept your reality. Many people live in anger and grief and never move to acceptance. In fact, this cycle of healing is an opportunity to step into the future with your head held high. Acceptance is a powerful opportunity to take hold of your moment and make the most of it. When you can learn to accept the things you cannot change, you become empowered to heal from the trauma that led you to this moment. 

As you move past the trauma that led to your grief, you are growing into a stronger version of yourself. This stronger you can lead your family and friends through their dark days too. That’s the power of grief; it offers the opportunity to grow and become a vessel to help others overcome trauma in their lives. At TYRO, we believe your past does not have to define you but it can qualify you for your future if you allow it.