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Old 08-21-2019, 05:57 AM
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My Dad was arrested in 2011, his bail set very high due to flight risk, and he spent his time waiting for sentencing in county jail. I was state's witness (not by choice) and was not allowed to speak to him at all until after sentencing. He was sentenced in 2012, and died of lung cancer (that none of us, including him, knew he had) in 2014.

It was horrible. Not being able to talk to him. Being constrained to intermittent phone calls and letters. I was lucky that he was put in a prison reasonably close to where I live (I could make it there and back for visitation in one day), so I could visit him regularly.

The prison system is labyrinthine at best and downright hostile at worst to family members. I spent a lot of time figuring out how things worked, both on my side and on his.

The first time I visited him, I cried all the way home. It took about 6 months before I could visit without crying my way home.

I loved my Dad dearly, though many thought he was not deserving of my love. Your father may try to push you away - he may try to "insulate" you from embarrassment by trying to chase you off so you're not associated with him. This is pretty common from what I understand. If you hold out and listen to your own heart instead of what he's trying to do (my Dad called me names and threatened to disown me so many times, I can't remember them all. He tried to chase me away), then you'll be fine. It won't be easy, but it will settle out.

I was lucky to be able to visit my dad every couple of weeks. I got used to the visitation room, I got used to the separation, I got used to the rules. Eventually, the visitation room sort of felt like a living room where Dad and I got to talk.

If you need support, you're in the right place. We're here to help and many of us understand what it's like. I believe it's a similar psychological phenomenon to what people go through when a loved on goes missing and can't be found. There's disbelief, and there's a state of suspended life animation - you don't want to believe he's gone, you can't grapple with the idea that he's not still at home and only a phone call or email away.

But we humans, as a species, are highly adaptable. You will adapt to the new circumstances eventually. It will become "normal" eventually. He will find his footing too.

In some ways, my relationship with my Dad improved immensely after he'd gone to prison.

But where you are right now? Right now, you probably are grieving the loss of him - not in that he died, but you have lost the ability to contact him at will, you have lost the ability to see him at will, you have lost the ability to help him. And all of that is a big loss, especially if you were close.

I suggest writing letters. I kept a bound journal by my bedside and would "write" letters to him that I never had any intention of letting him see. I wrote out everything I wanted to say to him but couldn't (for whatever reason).

A word of caution on writing letters/emails: all letters/emails are scanned and saved, and phone calls are recorded and saved. Anything you say having to do with his crime or sentencing is saved. Don't talk about anything that wasn't brought up in court. It can lead to more charges. Save that for visitation when you're face-to-face (if you're on a phone and he's on the opposite side of a sheet of glass, those conversations are recorded and saved also).

I know your heart is breaking right now. I was a mess for the first year or so. It does get better; it does get easier. I wish you luck and the patience to wait out the awful that starts the process.
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