Is it allowed to inform an inmate about a death in the family?

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Nicoletta's picture
Is it allowed to inform an inmate about a death in the family?

Hello everyone,

I have a very important question and I hope that someone out there is able to help me. I'm totally devastated, because my mom passed away a few weeks ago. It still doesn't feel real and I can't express it with words what's going on in my heart right now. I wasn't able to work and go to university during the last few weeks. Moreover, I didn't send any letters to my prison penpals, because I totally secluded myself. Now I want to send them a letter. Normally, I always tell them what's going on in my life, but I don't know how to write about this topic. On one hand, I don't want to hide this topic of course, because it has changed my whole life within a second but on the other hand, I don't know how the prisons would handle a letter with such a sensitive topic. We shouldn't depress the inmates, but I just can't act like it didn't happen at all. 

How would you deal with it? I appreciate every reply and I want to thank you in advance for reading my post.




Cleo95's picture

Hello! Firstly I just want to say that I’m very sorry for your loss. I hope you’re doing okay and holding up well. I think it depends on your relationship with your penpal. If you’re comfortable with and open to sharing it with your pen pal then I can’t see why the prison would forbid it. I’m sure they get all types of news through letters in there. The only things forbidden would be the obvious - drugs, talk of escape, Maybe anything that might be incriminating of theyre appealing etc. If you don’t want to specify, maybe you could just say that the past few weeks have been tumultuous and you’ve just been going through somethings. But yeah up to you. Take care and hope it goes well! 


PDS's picture

My husband is incarcerated in TDCJ and his grandfather (more like father) passed away almost three weeks ago. My husbands family (mom&dad-divorced before my husband was born)  decided it would be best for his father (My husband can’t stand this man) to drive to the unit and tell my husband in person about his grandfathers passing. So, they hid everything from me so that I would not know anything and that I wouldn’t tell him over the phone. Well needless to say, my husbands father chickened out and didn’t go to the unit. So his mother calls the unit and speaks to the Chaplain and asks him to allow my husband to call her due to the circumstances, but to please not tell my husband about his grandfathers death. The Chaplain had my husband brought to his office and not telling him anything other than his mother needed to speak with him urgently. The Chaplain tried calling her back three different times with no answer. After the third time the Chaplain ended up telling my husband that the person he cared the most for in this world had passed away. My husband then called me and told me. I was just as devastated as my husband. His grandfather was the only grandfather I’d ever known or that ever treated me like a granddaughter. My husband and I were just heartbroken over his passing. I was the last person that brought his grandfather to visit him with an open invitation to take him to visit anytime he wanted to go. I always prayed that my husband would make parole before his grandfather passed away, I wish he could’ve hugged his neck one more time, but my husband new it wouldn’t be likely because his grandfather was 98yrs old with deteriorating health. I think my husband has taken the news much better than I have. I can’t imagine what it would be like to hear this news from someone who barely knew me. I would’ve been there for my husband in a heartbeat had I known...if his family hadn’t been so petty as to keep it from me. I would’ve rather of heard it over the phone by a family member over being told in person by someone I barely knew.

Kirsten's picture

Hi Nicoletta,

first things first: Sorry for your loss and I hope you get helpful support during this time.

As for your question: It's up to you what you tell to whom.

One of my penpals lost his mother shortly after we started writing and he did tell me. Another one lost a sibling before our correspondence started, but there did come a time when he told me about it. So, death and grief can be a subject in letters, but I guess, this depends on the one who suffered the loss with whom s/he wants to share things.

If it was me, hm... yes, the two who lost family members themselves, I'd have no problem telling them, as I'm sure they could (and would) relate.

The others? Probably also, except perhaps one of them with whom I am more reserved than with any of the other ones.

It depends on you, on your level of trust, the kind of bond you have or don't have.

It is a hard subject, but those on the inside have had their own losses and they surely know sth. about grief. I guess, many of them, though not all, would express their condolences and trying to be there - each in its own way.

@nderson's picture

"Sorry that I've not been writing you more often, I'm still mourning a recent loss in my family. I'll resume writing you as soon as I can.
Until then, N. ."

KateAndrews's picture

You could just say that things have been extremely difficult for you these few months. Or say that someone close to you passed away but your not prepared to discuss it.