Sunday, February 7, 2010

#5 After U Finish Crying (retro)

AFTER you stop crying….

In the last few years of my prison writing, whether for prison support sites or my personal prison blogs, I KNOW I have covered the issue of grief. I have written several posts about the heavy burden a wife or girlfriend has when her man goes to prison.

But I wanted to focus on something that, in my opinion, many people don’t or can’t get around. I want to talk a little about grief, and what it might take for you to overcome it when your man is in prison.

“Grief” is defined in my dictionary as “deep sorrow”. There is no need for me to give examples of this, because we all have had them. But for the purposes of this post, I want to concentrate only on the grief of having your man locked up.

It’s kinda strange that if you read most of the sincere posts, you will find that many wives and girlfriends come to prison support sites, or with my prison blogs, I get emails from people who feel that they are all alone in this world because their man is in jail or prison. The fact is that what you are going through is very similar to thousands and thousands of wives and girlfriends all over the country.

Simply put, you are not all alone, although you might feel like it.

Many of you feel absolutely miserable because you miss your man, and for many of you, it has caused a financial strain. Some of you have children, and it has caused a strain on the family as well. Some of you are upset at how our judicial system works, in how it just seems that if you have money, your chances of a better trial are far better than some court appointed lawyer.


Regardless of these and other things, many of you bottom out when things become “official”, and your man is sent to prison. If you have not fallen apart, this then would be the time to do so.

And so you grieve…and cry.

And then grieve some more…and cry some more.

And then after that you grieve even more…and cry some more.

The world looks gray, with no sunshine, and days feel like its 64 hours long instead of 24 hours long. It is hard to get sleep, and if you do, the wakeup is a painful reminder of how miserable life is. You may also question God on why these terrible things could happen to you, and what went wrong.

Having no answers, you grieve some more… and cry some more.

You get on a site and share your story with the internet world, hoping someone might have the words you need to overcome this burden, but maybe finding none. In fact, you probably find a bunch of other people who feel just like you do. Miserable.

So you grieve some more, and cry some more.

Does anyone see a pattern here? There’s a hell of a lot of grieving and crying… and nothing else.

“But I miss my man!”

“You don’t know how bad I feel”

“But it’s so unfair what they did to him!”

“You just don’t understand us!”

Well, I’ll tell you what. When you are through complaining and looking for negatives, we can finish trying to find ways for you to cope. I can wait………………



You done? Ok, let’s continue.

Folks, in no way am I belittling your burdens. I know what it’s like to be in grief too, since I am human. People who lose a man to prison are not the only ones on planet earth to have grief. But let me tell you something that maybe you never heard of before…

You can get over it to. In fact, you NEED to.

We need to encourage one another in how to cope, not how to suffer daily. Lots of times I just think we forget that we are supposed to be trying to help one another, and that means moving FORWARD, not being stuck in neutral.

So, whatever time you need to grieve over your man, do that, but AFTER you finish crying, you need to stand.

After you finish crying, you need to focus on today, and tomorrow. Life might have “seemed” to have stopped when your man went to prison, but in actuality it kept moving. And it will continue to move, with or without your approval.

Folks, what I am saying is that sooner or later, you have to find the will to go on. You can’t keep sitting in the dark in your bedroom, crying and saying, “Why me God”. Yeah, I know what that’s like, I have been there. Even after I got out in 2001, and after thousands of pages of prison documents I have written on and offline, I STILL feel that way. Life is NOT easy for a guy with a college degree, and a prison record. I have a small business of writing prison books, and cards and the like, but it has not been easy.

Many times I wonder if I am wasting my time spilling my guts for people to pick over like Thanksgiving leftovers. Lots of times it causes me grief and I sit and wonder if maybe working at McDonalds is much better. As an ex felon, I do know grief, and I also know that even after a man does his time, and pays his debt to society, he is never truly forgiven.

I KNOW about grief.

But when you feel down, really down, sooner or later you have to fight for the hope of a better day. You can lie in bed, under the covers in a dark room all day, but until you make a stand, and GET UP, nothing is going to change. Misery will remain as long as you let it…

Let me say that again, MISERY will REMAIN as long as YOU let it.

So after you finish feeling sorry about your life, DO something about it.

So, after you finish crying, find a reason to believe. Your man is in prison, and you feel awful. Ok, that is normal. It is also normal to grieve. But it is NOT normal to grieve every single day. What does your man need from you that you can give?

“Wait a minute, what about ME”

Well, this is a tricky position, because your grief is not caused by you, it is caused by your losing your man. So if you are going to fight against grief, you need to start at the source. You have to find out what you can do to help your man, because in doing that, you establish a reason to believe in another day.

It’s funny because I just finished writing two blogs about “what does my son need from me”, on my blogs and a few sites. Even though that is for mothers, it could very easily be for wives, if you are willing to read it.

The point is this, the moment you start looking up, you empower yourself to not only help your man, but you as well. Sorrow, depression, stress, grief and failure all feed on the same negative energy, which does absolutely nothing for you.

For you Christians, think of it as the devil slapping you in the face, and you just sit there like an idiot, begging the devil to stop, while he laughs at you. How many of you are going to tolerate that? Well, many of us do. And yes, I had to put myself in that group, because we are all guilty of stewing in depression. But I want to encourage you to get up and out of that mudhole.

Somebody on a prison support site, or prison ministry, or someone scanning the web for help needs to hear from someone who has gone through this hell, and found a way to cope, or even turn this situation around. Believe me, there are lots of people out there that can give a testimony. And we all know that there are thousands of wives and girlfriends out there desperately looking for support. And not just neutral support, POSITIVE support.

When you stop crying, you need to say to yourself, “I don’t know what today brings, but I am going to do my best to find the positives”. When you start to think that way, you start to conquer your grief. When you start to conquer your grief, you start to see that there are in fact many things you can do to help your man during his difficult time, and by doing you realize how important you are in this ordeal.

He needs you. He needs your strength, and let’s be honest, you are far more likely to get that strength than he is. And I am not talking about lifting weights on the yard. The greater strength comes from inside, from the determination and love of a wife or girlfriend who is not going to let grief keep her from helping her man.

I say that assuming you love him.

This does not mean that you won’t backslide every once and awhile. There will be times where you might go a week or even a few weeks feeling like you are making progress. But then a day comes, or a special day (like holidays) where you feel down in the dumps.

If (or when) that happens, trust me, it’s ok. This is because the core of the problem has still not be resolved. He is still in prison, and you still miss him. And if this happens, you might feel overburdened and cry.

Trust me, that is ok. But AFTER you finish crying, get up and fight for your man… and your sanity.

There are numerous ways you can encourage him, there are numerous ways you can encourage yourself. Use those ideas that people share and stop looking at a gray world. There are other colors you know.

So take a moment today, or whenever you get around to it, and make an declaration of action to do something positive. Sit down, and come up with just 2 things you can do to move forward in this situation. Anything is better than nothing at all, and a hell of a lot better than crying every day. For example, you can say something like:

“Today I am going to fight this grief and help my man by taking a nice walk outside to clear my head, and to write a positive message on a card to send to him”


“Today I am going to fight this grief and help my man by praying to God for guidance and remembering the good things about him”


“Today I am going to fight this grief and help my man by doing some charity work at the church and obtaining the list of address of the DOC”


“Today I am going to fight this grief and help my man by asking questions about my man’s prison and reading all those great and wonderful blogs by that magnificent and charming model of humanity, Nolaw97”……..

(ok, I went overboard there, but you get my point)

It’s hard to overcome grief, I grant you that. But it isn’t hard to start the path of being positive. After you finish crying over your man…start being positive. Hey, it certainly can’t hurt!

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