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Sadness,grief and regret over sons incarceration

Community Member

Hi, I am new to this but  need to talk to someone, anyone, I am a mother of 4 children , three adults ages 25, 29,32 and a 10 year old son from from second marriage. My eldest son was convicted of  a crime and is now in prison,he is 32 and the whole experience has devastated me , sitting through the trial I cried the whole two days everyone was looking at me  obviously knowing I was the mother ,then his sentencing was a day I shall never forget I had to write a letter to the judge about my son, about his drug use, about his father not being in his life since we divorced and his downfall, I also wrote about  how I loved him would stand by him, I'm sorry I failed him  and he turned to drugs too take away his pain, but underneath all that was a wonderful creative boy who just took a wrong turn, the judge  starting reading my letter word for word out to the court room, I looked at my beautiful boy and there were tears running down his face, I think he finally realised what he has done not only to himself but to me as his mother, that image is burned into my memory ,for once in my life I could not protect my child and it killed me, his sentence was given and they took him away, he will be released about september. I cannot tell  anyone and the stress is unbearable,I have to lie to people to excuse his absence , he is clean and sober now and has turned this life around he is doing all the courses to correct his life while in prison and is deeply regretful of his choices, I do not excuse his behaviour  but I am his mother and I have to stand by him, I look at all the other families visiting in prison and it is so sad it affects the whole family. This is the first time I have said this out aloud it is so hard to live with this "secret",I just don't know how to live with this.

570 Replies 570

Hi Tony,

Thankyou for your kind words, yes my children are my world, the ups the downs,the happiness and the sadness,I have always wanted to be a mother, I am not a career person, I just wanted to be a mum and Im trying my best.

Being a parent is not easy, your kids forget sometimes that you hurt and feel pain and I think it is not until they experience some life lessons do they realise what you as a parent have been through, although my son in prison has been hurtful at times due to his alcohol/drug use I have never stopped loving him, and now seeing him clean and sober is all I want in life, visiting him is very stressful but he always hugs me and tells me he loves me, to me he is still that  precious beautiful little boy ,my first born, at 19 it was me and him against the world and it always will be.

He tells me he wants to have a family of his own, and I hope that happens for him, to hold your own baby in your arms is to me more precious than anything in this world.

It is so sad to know that there are wonderful men who want a relationship with their kids and are denied it , when all you hear about is the dads who get divorced and basically divorce their children to  start a new life without them.

I think you both make a decision to bring a life into the world and you are both responsible to care and nurture that child and  not just to 18, not until they mess up and make mistakes but until.... and we know us parents aren't  perfect either.


Blue Voices Member
Blue Voices Member

Hi July,

Great to hear the forums are helping you. You might want to check out this thread in the Men's forum, written by a guy in prison. It might help you with some further insights into what your son may be feeling.

Community Member

Hi Chris,

Thanks I did post him a message ,my heart feels for him, I am lucky my son will only do 18 months or so, thank god.

But I do have an understanding of prison life , and it is hard, my son tells me  what goes  on in there and how he has heard grown men cry in their cells, they are human to, we all understand they need to pay the price for their crimes but we need to show each other some compassion  and kindness.

It is scary just visiting  a prison, but being in there must be the worst, I see the look on my sons face as Ieave, I try to be happy and strong when I am there because I don't want him to worry about me but often I have cried in the car on the way home.

It is a heartbreaking experience for the prisoner and the family, we are all paying the price for this.


white knight
Community Champion
Community Champion

Hi July,

And a lot goes on in prison most inmates dont realise, like tensions between officers. Some officers in my time there were ruthless. They expected you to guard the cell door as they got their revenge on an inmate for things like smurking at them or questioning their attitude.

And the same goes for some "career" criminals. Some good others bad, real bad.

As an officer you might display kindness to an inmate not realising he is acting in a way that inside he doesnt respect you and is looking at your weaknesses.

By now your son would have settled in somewhat. It is an opportunity for you and him to plan things upon release.

An example would be- on the way home if you said to him "I bet you's like a beer at the pub"?  he'd say yeh....you could answer - I've got two cans of beer in my fridge...we can celebrate at home as a new step in changes"  Something like that. Subtle changes that will help him feel he can do things but best to do them differently.

Anyway I have confidence you will do fine. You know of course there are different ways to look at things. If he had taken an overseas trip for 18 months you would have seen him less.?

Try to be positive. And bare in mind 70% of released prisoners return to jail. But if you take away from that the fact that most of those are career criminals you have a lot of hope for your son with your love and care, guidance and wisdom.

Tony WK

Hi Tony,

I can imagine that some officers get a hard time by prisoners and their fellow officers, but my son is respectful to the officers and understands they have a job to do, and he has a job to .. rehabilitate himself, show self restraint  and behave accordingly.

I always talk to him honestly about why he is in prison, how he got there and what "we" can do now to lead a happy and honest life outside, I dont "sugar coat"anything, but also at the same time encourage him, the change in him and his attitude is remarkable he is of clear mind, and he even admits the drugs/alcohol never solve the problem, it just pushes it down and makes you more angry and resentful towards everything.

He has to complete mandatory alcohol and drug rehab courses, aggression and violence courses and many others before parole which is the best answer, he has to"own" his crime, which he does, he is not just sitting in prison living the high life as some people think.

In my job I see people in car accidents and suicides all through drugs and alcohol and then watch their families grieve,  as I care for their loved one in death, I would prefer to see my son in prison than bury him.


no one has the right to judge anyone for their mistakes unless they themselves have lived the life of a saint,empathy is putting yourself in someone else''s shoes and showing compassion

Hello July

My name is Anne and I too have a son in Jail.

I have been directed to your post and I believe it is fate as no one but us can understand fully what torture it is to have a child inside. When my son went to jail my world fall apart.

Brief history, it sounds bad but everyone is different.

My son Peter started taking drugs in his teens, his father was abusive and left the family when Peter was 8 yrs old.  Mid to late 20's he went to jail for drug related crime, soft crime nothing to hard but he got 4 years as each time he appeared in the courts, total 11, he kept going back to bad habits, and when drugs are involved they get a harder sentence. He served 22 months, paroled, lasted 3 months and breached parole, back to jail,  1 month later sent to rehab, last 3 weeks, breached his conditions, went on the run for 6 weeks because he was fearful of going back to jail, he did hand himself in and went back to jail, served another month, back to rehab, lasted 4 weeks breached conditions and back to jail.  Finished his sentence. He took drugs in jail for a short time. I visited him regularly. We have always been close. He is almost 35

I tried when he got out then aged early 30's to help, tried to get him in rehab, NA,  but he pulled away, I realised he was involved in drugs again so gave him tough love, he disowned me, blamed me as he could/wouldn't take responsibility.  Almost 2 years later, last christmas eve got a letter saying he was back inside and had been for 6 months. I fell apart again.

Everyone who meets him says what a lovely gentle boy he is, even the guards I spoke to said he was one of the good ones. I said to him before he got released that if he went back to jail I would not go and see him, too hard, my psychiatrist reminded me of this, I can't go back on my word as he would see that as weakness and walk all over me.

I love my boys with every molecule of my body but can't allow him to hurt me again.  I nearly had a break down last time he went to jail, I love him but must put myself first this time.  I will never stop loving him and I am here for him if he wants help to go straight  but I can not allow myself to go under. 

I suffer from depression, dysthymia, PTSD, anxiety/GAD, a lot of my depression is from him.

My story is tough but that doesn't mean your son will do the same.

Anytime you want to chat I am here for you.  I know how much you are hurting as I am too.

Heaps of Hugs


Hi anne,

I am glad you responded to my post and you are right it is torture for us left behind on the outside, because no matter what, they are your children, and it breaks your heart to see them go down this path, I sat through my sons court case and I know it hurt him to see me so distressed and helpless.

It is a situation that only someone else who has been through, can "truly" understand the anguish and pain you feel as a mother, it seems the same profile of someone in jail, drug/alcohol abuse, no father supporting them and them turning to  something else to ease that pain it is so sad.

I have learnt so much since my son has been in prison, about him ...and me, he has changed an enormous amount , now clean and sober he is back to that beautiful little boy I had, he has admitted his mistakes and the reasons why and does not ever want to be back in that place again, he is doing all the courses in prison that is required of him and I think personally that prison has saved his life.


I have no family to support us and none of my friends know about my son, so its been a major stress in my life , but I love him and will stand by him no matter what, I truly feel he has redeemed himself and we talk about it all the time during our visits, it will be a long road but I feel he needs for me to believe in him and give him that love and trust so he can move forward in a positive way.. we all need a second chance sometimes.

I am so sorry your son has not found his way yet and I completely understand where you are coming from as I would not allow my son in my house when he was under the influence of drugs/alcohol and we were estranged many a time but the court case and eventual imprisonment has some how brought us together, and I just pray he has the strength and resilience to stay strong on his release and to make a good life for himself and I do have faith in him....and myself.

All the best ,please contact me again I would really love to chat with you as we do have this unfortunate bond, but as mothers we are invincible.


Hi July

I didn't get to see my son's court case as it was brought forward and I wasn't aware of it. He told me nothing about his convictions and didn't involve me at all with his lawyers except to ask for money to 'pay the lawyer' yeah well we know where that money went. So sad. 

I had the police visit me every week for a year trying to track him down.  The first 6 months I knew where he was the last 6 months I didn't.  Every time I asked the police what he had done they said 'nothing much' or 'don't worry about it' but I knew it was bad.

I have learnt how far down my depression can go and how resilient I can be.  My depression goes down around holidays, birthdays.  This time around he has not called me, in fact the prison hasn't called me to get permission for him to ring so to me that says he isn't going to ring.  Mother's day was painful. It feels like he is trying to punish me, I haven't done anything wrong.  He hasn't learnt anything and I can't even think of where he is headed it's too painful.

When I use to see him in prison I saw my old son back again, the loving caring son yet when he got out it didn't take long before the old son disappeared, around 12 months.  He assured me he was doing everything to stay clean, maybe he was but I believe he was still involved with drugs, selling maybe.

Then when I challenged him he disowned me, I didn't hear from him for almost 2 years when I did hear it was to say he was back in side. I'm typing this on the verge of tears, he's my baby, my youngest and the one I was closest to.

I am lucky in that I do have family support and some of my closest friends know but it is not something you go around telling everyone.  I just say he is up the coast and I don't see much of him.

I have known of other drug addicted children to go straight and stay that way, they have to want to more than anything. Your son sounds like he will be one of the lucky ones.

I too will stand by and help my son if and when he wants to involve me again in his life.  His birthday is next month so I will send him a card.  Can't do much else.

I love my son as you do, we will never stop no matter what they do.

Please keep in touch. Its wonderful to know of someone else in my boat. Sorry that sounds bad, you know what I mean.



Dear Anne and July,

Just want to let you know that my heart goes out to you both.

I never had the opportunity to meet my children, but I still love them immeasurably.

I have no idea of the pain you both must feel regarding the path your son's lives have taken.

Thinking of you both. Love and hugs from Lauren xxx