By Jack Cain

Someone has died, or you have experienced some other devastating loss, and grief has virtually taken over your life. It arrives in towering waves that engulf and own you, all at once. I can tell you this because I lived it.

Three people in my family died in a 20-month period, of unrelated causes. My son, Adam, committed suicide at age 27; then my wife, Lenore, died of ovarian cancer, after having survived breast cancer four years previously; my daughter, Stephanie, died at age 34 of congestive heart failure, less than three months after the death of my wife.

There were only five of us to start with, and these battering blows left me and my daughter, Nicole, shattered. For a long time, people asked me how I survived them. I replied that I had no choice. It was either survive or jump off the bridge. I chose survival.

Three tragic experiences in my life could have virtually destroyed me. I deliberately chose not to be destroyed. Instead, I taught myself to overcome the grief that was consuming me and to bring my mind – and me — back into the land of the living.

There is a certain strength that comes with knowing that even though the bombs of life are falling all around you, you aren’t required to collapse; and you can use this knowledge as power that gives you the ability to rise above the ashes.

Because of my jangled mind, it took me some time to realize what I had really done to survive. It was no accident. I had a plan, born, I suppose, of desperation. The thing is, I didn’t realize I had a plan until I was in the midst of using it.

Somewhere between the first and second year after my daughter died, I made a conscious decision that I no longer wanted, or needed, to have grief continue to control my life. I had chosen to regain my life.  How did this come about?

I taught myself to live in the present, the NOW, to leave the past behind and to not give currency to the feared future, a feared future that might never happen. I needed to do this is order to simply survive. If you are able to absorb this concept into your being, you will be able to say, as I do, that you can’t believe how lucky you are, in spite of any misfortunes you might have had, which after all, are in the past, not in the NOW.

Living in the NOW is to recognize this minute for what it is and what it means to you. To recognize the magic and grandeur of the moment. Appreciating what is right here, whether sensory or mental. To gather up all the positives in your life right now and draw them into you.

To be present in every living moment is to be here, now.  To be fully engaged in and focused on whatever you’re doing or experiencing. Aware of what you’re doing and who you’re with, so that if you’re sitting at a table talking to someone you’re not thinking about what you did yesterday nor reading the titles of the books on the shelves around you nor planning tomorrow’s activities.

Eventually, together with Anne Berenberg, I made a road map that consists of Ten Steps. These steps form the basis for leading the reader on a path out of his or her grief. We will discuss this in more detail in subsequent articles in on the Open to Hope website.

The book NOW: Overcoming Crushing Grief by Living in the Present by Jack Cain and Anne Hatcher Berenberg, Ph.D., can be ordered through or directly from the authors. Contact them at . They are available to speak to groups about overcoming grief that comes from many kinds of loss.

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Jack Cain

Jack Cain lost his wife, son, and daughter in a 20-month period. In his book, Now: Overcoming Crushing Grief by Living in the Present, co-authored with his new wife Dr. Anne Hatcher Berenberg, Jack, 77, describes his painful past and offers a 10-step program for regaining control of a person’s life after experiencing loss. Jack is a writer, trained chef, and photographer. His latest book is currently available on; ISBN 978-0-578-01155-4. You can reach Jack at Jack Cain has written 4 books, including Now: Overcoming Crushing Grief by Living in the Present (co-authored by Anne Hatcher Berenberg) and is a contributor to Open to Hope: Inspirational Stories of Healing After Loss by Drs. Gloria and Heidi Horsley. The survivor of 3 deaths in his family within a 20 month period--his son, his wife, and one of his daughters--he has also written articles on grief that have appeared in several publications, as well as giving talks on overcoming grief. Jack has been a businessman, a pastry chef, and a recruiter. Currently, he focuses his attention on writing, volunteer work, and his grandchildren. At the moment, he is finishing Max and MB, a book for middle grade children and working on a new book of fiction for young adults. Dr. Anne Hatcher Berenberg, Ph.D. co-authored the commentary sections at the ends of chapters and the Ten Steps, taking primary responsibility for the Reinforcements which conclude each step. Anne has a B.A. in Social Relations from Harvard University, an M.A. in Psychology from Boston University, and a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the City University of New York. Her background and experience as a clinical psychologist, currently in private practice, formerly as Director of Psychology at the Josselyn Center for Mental Health in Northfield, Illinois, as well as her personal experience of having been widowed, has given the book an important added dimension.

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