Being in prison isn’t easy. So many of a person’s natural freedoms are stripped away. Many inmates struggle with feelings of guilt and shame. Some are scared for their lives. It’s not easy to access life on the outside. There’s no way to email, Facebook message or text a loved one. It’s very isolating. That’s why letters are so important for those in prison. Whether you’re writing a loved one or a stranger – notes can go a long way to improve mental wellbeing during incarceration.
Writing letters is a way to offer words of encouragement, share inspirational quotes or send well wishes. For someone in prison, a letter from the outside can act as a breath of fresh air. People in prison experience a lot of negativity, so a letter provides solace and hope. By writing letters to inmates, you can be that hope.
Even if you’re not sure what to write in your letters, send them anyway. It could be something as simple as “I just wanted to let you know that you are in my thoughts. I’m praying for you and wishing you the best on your journey.” It’s not always what you say, but the fact that you’re saying it. Just letting the person know that they are thought of can be uplifting as they face this dark reality.
Another thing you can do in your letters is to talk about what is going on with you. If it’s someone you know, maybe talk about what is going on in the lives of those they care about. Keep them up to date on what they’d want to know about or on what you’re doing. If it’s someone you don’t know, maybe some of the experiences you’ve dealt with over the years can be of encouragement to the receiver. You never know how impactful your letters could be. You can also provide helpful tips in your letters. If you know someone is struggling to get a good night’s rest, maybe do a little research and offer some tips.
Check the prison rules, sometimes you can include pictures in your letters (there will probably be sizing and count restrictions). Aside from personal photos, you might also want to consider taking pictures of inspirational quotes or beautiful scenery.
It only takes a few minutes to put a letter together, but it could leave a positive and lasting impact on the receiver. Try to make it a regular occasion to send these letters out. You never know, the receiver may read your letter several times, giving them encouragement on a weekly basis.
[Monalisa Johnson is a licensed and ordained minister of the gospel and a certified life coach as well as a mother and entrepreneur. In no way is anything that she writes, speaks or shares considered medical advice or clinical therapy. Consider all that you receive to be life coaching and guidance.]