Sunday 17 December 2017

Create a space in order to cope with the stages of grief

'The experts tell us we never get over a major bereavement,' says Declan Coyle. Photo: Getty Images.
'The experts tell us we never get over a major bereavement,' says Declan Coyle. Photo: Getty Images.

Declan Coyle

In the weeks since appearing on The Saturday Night Show with Brendan O'Connor on RTÉ and Ireland AM on TV3, I've received a huge amount of feedback from people asking about how to apply The Green Platform tools to different life-challenging situations. Believe it or not, bereavement was high on the list.

"Just saw part of your interview on Ireland AM. I wonder how does the power of positive thinking apply to someone who has suffered bereavement. I lost my husband almost a year ago and I find it hard to be positive and see that White Space. I know it's early days but as time goes on the pain never seems to ease."

The experts tell us that we never get over a major bereavement. We just learn to live the best we can with it. To live well with bereavement we need to choose to live on the positive Green Platform.

Grief happens in instalments. Just when we think we're over it, and we're 'better', along comes another 'grief instalment'. If the relationship wasn't so good the grieving wouldn't be so bad.

The stages of grief are shock, anger, guilt, denial, depression and then a new acceptance. Following a death, bereaved people often find it hard to take care of day-to-day tasks. Energy levels may be low. Bereaved people are likely to have some days when they feel they are doing quite well and others when they may feel overwhelmed by their loss.

The key is to have a Green Platform recovery routine. There are four steps.

Step 1: You feel the feelings of sadness and loss fully. You acknowledge and honour your human situation. You are emotionally honest. You don't pour positive Green Platform talk over human suffering.

Step 2: You have a White Space. In this space you choose your response. You are not responsible because someone dear to you dies. But you are for your own response. You can, in fact, feel the feeling fully and still choose your response.

Step 3: You can choose The Red Platform. Many times this appears in our lives as an automatic reaction. This is the negative reactive platform of despair. Or you can choose The Green Platform. This is the positive, proactive platform of peace, joy, happiness, creativity, innovation, trust, hope, daily exercise, meditation, compassion, care, justice, unconditional love and action.

Step 4: The outcome. The consequence. Your quality of life will ultimately depend on which platform you decide to choose. Green Platform: hope and joy. Red Platform: misery and sadness. In that White Space between stimulus and response you always have a choice. Every moment of every minute.

When in grief we often stop doing the ordinary things that made us feel good like meeting friends and taking exercise. We often say, "when I feel better about myself, I'll go for a walk." Go for a walk, a swim, or a bit of aqua aerobics and you'll feel better about yourself. But don't leave it to chance. Build it into your routine and make it a habit. Don't think about it. Don't talk to yourself about it. Just get up, get out and do it.

When we are faced with a situation we can't change, we are challenged to change ourselves. This is where your running, cycling or general exercise can be a real help. The nature around you will play a major role in helping you cope and then change to your new circumstances.

Your own Green Platform recovery routine can be that run by the lake, that cycle up the mountains or a walk.

Declan Coyle is a director of Andec Communications. His motivational techniques have been used by several All-Ireland-winning teams.

Irish Independent

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