Incarceration and Dealing with Grief
Many of us may feel like the grief we experience is keeping us “in jail.” In fact, that example is often used in The Grief Recovery Method classes…. that the jail we put ourselves in is one we can choose to leave behind if we take the appropriate actions. But what if one really is in jail – or prison – or incarceration at any jurisdictional level? What choices does one have then when grief strikes? An Ohio facility has begun to implement The Grief Recovery Method principles and tools inside those bars. In June 2011, Grief Recovery Method Trainer, Lois Hall, MS, had the privilege of providing the 4-day Certification training for ten residents, a chaplain, and an outside volunteer. Significant preparation preceded the actual training – with the Chaplain working in concert with the trainer to explore the details and circumstances that would be much different than those met when training on the “outside.” Persons involved in either prison ministry or Grief Recovery groups made financial donations to help cover the needed expenses.
The Chaplain recognized the depth and extent of the grief experienced by both the residents and the staff. He worked to provide this training to help ease some of that grief and to provide some new tools within the facility. He was intentional about selecting men of diverse ethnic, cultural, and “religious” backgrounds for the training, realizing that all the men there experience grief – before, during, and after release from incarceration. The Chaplain’s hope is that these trained volunteers will be of assistance throughout the institution in sharing the Grief Recovery messages with their peers and family members. While the institution has not yet begun their “official” 12 week Outreach Programs, those trained report that they are using what they learned in both their own situations and among the men with whom they share their time and space. Follow up with the Chaplain and the trained residents is still to come in order to obtain qualitative evidence to document the benefit of the training in this setting.
“As I sat there watching these residents – these men – do their Grief Recovery work, I saw them sharing and caring in amazing ways. Wouldn’t it be just as amazing if it were more like this on the outside? Perhaps if it were – we wouldn’t need so many prisons to begin with,” says Lois in response to the training experience. “It was an honor to work with the Chaplain and these residents in this way.”