Losing Your Father

Image of a child huddled under cushions on a couch, most likely crying and a stencil on a wall of a little girl releasing a heart shaped red ballon

Losing your father to incarceration is a traumatic event. It’s completely understandable that you may be struggling to cope with negative feelings from the ordeal. Handling your emotions may feel overwhelming in the face of an uncertain future. You are not alone. Through this blog post, we hope that we have put into words what you are feeling and also provide you with support options while your father is incarcerated.

Feeling Negative Emotions

Discovering that your father has, or is going to be, incarcerated is extremely upsetting.

  • If you feel panic and anxiety upon hearing the news, realize that this is a perfectly normal response. 
  • It is perfectly normal to feel anger or uncertainty about your future. 
  • Losing your father, for any period of time might be all you think about for a long time. This dominant thought might color your perceptions about your life and anything else happening around you.
  • When you feel overwhelmed by negative emotions, you might lose sleep, your energy may drop, and you may feel depressed.
  • Remember that what is happening is not your fault. You have no control over the behavior of your father and cannot hold yourself responsible for the results of his actions.

Your mountain of emotions include shame, anger, fear, confusion, loss and sadness

As your feelings of panic, anxiety, fear and anger arise, close your eyes and breathe deeply. Create a chant that you can silently repeat to yourself such as, my father’s incarceration is not my fault. I am in control of my thoughts and emotions! Repeat it to yourself whenever you feel rising levels of negative emotions. This will help steady your resolve and clear your mind.

Your personal mantra: My father’s incarceration is not my fault. I am in control of my emotions!

Feeling Concern for your Father

It is natural for you to feel concern and fear for your father’s safety while he is incarcerated. It is important to realize that you have absolutely no control over the prison system. However, you do have control over your mental state. Create another mantra to repeat to yourself when you become anxious about your father’s well-being. Find ways to stay in touch with your father. Write how you are feeling and send him letters if possible or give them to him when he is released. This will be helpful to both of you.

Dealing with Bullies

Other children can be mean. If you are being bullied, take action to stop it before things get out of hand. Speak to an adult that you trust. You do not deserve to be bullied and your future is determined by you, not what other people say about you.

Finding Support

Losing your father to incarceration is not easy, but it does not have to be hard for you either. We are all blessed with challenge and support in our lives, they are key factors to our personal growth. Your father’s imprisonment does not demean you as a person. The people close to you will understand this as well and bear no judgment on you for your father’s actions. Ask your family and friends for support if you are struggling to cope with loneliness.

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