Reaching out to families of inmates creates strong bonds; it also provides the group members the opportunity and ability to work through all of the strong emotions one experiences in having a family member incarcerated. Encouragement is given and received. It is a community benefit as well, as healing takes place within families.
This is the bedrock of all support groups: to find that one is not alone in their sadness, frustration, and struggles--that others can relate, are empathetic, and willing to come alongside them and share the burden. There is no judgement and all are welcomed. Support takes place in the meetings as well as at other crucial times outside the meetings.
The prison system can feel like an impossible maze, especially at the beginning of the journey: figuring out where to go; how to get help in particular situations; what the visiting and packaging rules are; who can visit; what can be worn; what to expect; what the prisoner can receive; to whom to address issues; how to communicate with the incarcerated family member, etc. Much information is given and received in our meetings.
Most of us have come to realize that we cannot walk this walk without God in our lives; dealing in a positive way with a family member who is incarcerated requires a supernatural power outside of ourselves. Prayer and spiritual support are offered at the meetings and other times as well.