Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Beyond Surviving: Jack Cain's Story “Living in the NOW”

After our son Bobby took his own life a little more than 15 months ago on Sept. 19, 2009, a friend sent me this article hoping that it would help bring me peace.

I have read this article countless times; first to remind myself that I am not alone, also that it can be worse - and it certianly can be.  But most importantly I read it to remind myself that life will and should go on; and that how my life goes on is a choice that only I can and must make.  Despite the tragedy of that day Bobby died, I want Bobby's life to be remembered for all the wonderful 13,165 days of his young life - not that one day when he choose to go home to heaven.  Bobby loved life and lived it to the fullest - he always saw the cup as half full - and the best in all situations, or so we thought - but that is what I choose to remember and I want that sense of positive optimism to be instilled in his 2 little boys and each and every member of our family.  That to me is Bobby's legacy and until we meet again I hope I can and will live life to the fullest and enjoy all the joy there is to behold.  We are so blessed with a wonderful family, 8 beautiful healthy grandchildren and another on the way in January - We have so much to be thankful and joyous for...  And Jack Cains story helps remind me of that each time I read it..  I hope you will find it healing, despite the way in which your child died - the lessons are the same..   Cherie Houston

~ by Jack Cain

"As horrible as the experience of suicide was, it taught us to appreciate our life in the moment and not to live our lives in the past and certainly not to fear the future." Hello. My name is Jack Cain. Ten years ago, I lost my son to suicide. In the following year, I lost my wife to ovarian cancer and my 34 year-old daughter to congestive heart failure.

My son Adam was 27 years old. He had a very long history of emotional problems, and used both drugs and alcohol. He had been hospitalized for depression for months before he died. He seemed to be getting better, but killed himself just two weeks after being released.

One night, after my wife and I had gone to bed, Adam went into the garage, and with the overhead door closed, turned on the car while he was sitting in it. I found his body the next morning. Our family did its best to cope. Unfortunately, this came at a very difficult time because my wife was battling ovarian cancer. I became convinced that some part of Adam’s decision to kill himself was that he knew my wife was going to die, and chose not to be there.

Our immediate response after his suicide was questioning what we might have done differently to prevent this from happening. We did not dwell too long on the subject because we knew in our hearts that we had always done what was best for him. Today, when I look back, I believe that grief is necessary, but guilt and regrets are totally counterproductive.

At some point, perhaps because my wife was so ill, an idea evolved. My wife and I were living our remaining time together, in pain that came from dealing in the past. Any happiness was crowded out by thoughts of Adam’s suicide. We were living in the past instead of the present. Little by little we learned to replace the past by doing what we called “Living in the NOW”. We learned to appreciate each day and its beauty, instead of allowing the past to consume us. I eventually wrote down these thoughts on the process of NOW and I practice them every day, sometimes a number of times a day.

After my wife died, I was alone in my grief. It came to me in waves; as years went by, the pain decreased a bit, and the waves became further and further apart. I was eventually able to control the grief, so that it came only when it was invited, but this took years to accomplish.

My perspective on life at the moment is very positive. I regard myself as a very lucky person. I now live with my daughter, her husband, and my two grandchildren, and our lives together are marvelous. In the past year, my Significant Other, Anne, and I were fortunate to find each other, filling the voids in each other’s lives. I am heavily into photography of homeless people; I sell their portraits to raise money for Fotokids, an organization that teaches photography to kids who live in a garbage dump in Guatemala.

I could have chosen to dwell on the past and all the misfortune it contained. Instead, I have chosen to move forward in my life and to absorb the possibilities that are in front of me. You, too, can have this choice. It won’t happen soon after you experience the crushing grief of loss by suicide, but it will happen. Time needs to go by coupled with a positive attitude that it will happen. If you let it.

February 2008, published again November 2009-Editor's Note: Jack published his first book Overcoming Crushing Grief and remarried in the spring of 2009.

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