What can I do for a family member going to prison soon?
November 14, 2012 11:50 AM Subscribe
My brother is going to prison in December, possibly for a decade or more. What can I do for him, both emotionally and practically?
posted by gregoryg to Human Relations (19 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
My brother is awaiting sentencing for a drug-related crime and has been for most of the year. He is depressed, listless, and distant and has been since his arrest, but as far as I can tell he is trying to keep a good attitude day-to-day. He is currently halfway across the country from me in our small hometown staying at our dad's house, with our mom living a few minutes away. Our parents are both there for him emotionally and trying to be supportive of him, but he has a history of being emotionally distant and immature - partially due to his previous physical distance from all of us for a decade, his drug-based leisurely lifestyle, as well as several minor-to-serious drug addictions.
He and I haven't been close in almost 15 years, but we do care for each other and I've occasionally been able to get him to open up when we talk on the phone the past few months. However, even during the good times he has been difficult to get ahold of by phone/text/email/etc and if he returns messages it usually takes several days. My parents both think that I'm able to (or, hypothetically, would be able to) get through to him better than they can, but I am someone who has always struggled with communication, especially when it comes to emotional communication. I've been trying to talk and engage with him, but it's very frustrating and as I've said, it isn't my forte. It's additionally difficult to me because he (and I) seems to be avoiding preparing for the inevitable practicalities of the situation. I'm visiting him for a little under two weeks directly before his sentencing.
So my question is this: what does he need that I can provide, both emotionally and practically? Both before he is sentenced and after.
This includes how I can communicate with him and help him through this very sad time, but also how I can best equip him for life in prison, what I can make for him or give to him, etc.
Once he is in I plan to send him books, write him letters, send him phone cards/money, and send him photographs and snippets of my life, but outside of that I don't know what to do. And on a more minor note, it's his birthday right before he goes in and Christmas right after, so I'd like to give him something special he can take in with him or I can send him, but don't know what that would be.