After her fiancé's death, Sinead Kieran began a different way of life

Sinead Kieran, life coach. She says that life coaching is about trying to figure out what you want ‘outside of all the boxes’.Picture: Éadaoin Curtin Firechild Photography

The sudden death of her fiancé saw Sinead Kieran step back and evaluate her life, giving up a ‘safe’ job in the corporate world to be a self-employed life coach, she tells Olivia Kelleher.

When a seismic change happens in your life it can feel as if you are in a play. Nothing seems real.

Life coach Sinead Kieran knows what it feels like to inhabit this unimaginable place. One day she was picking out a wedding dress. Then with no warning, she was behind the coffin of her fiancé at his funeral service.

Sinead, who runs a personal and business coaching service in Meath, was set to marry her fiancé Brian when he died of Sudden Adult Death six years ago. They had moved in together and got engaged within a year.

Sinead was working in the corporate world. It was a life of responsibility and she had senior positions in Fortune 500 companies.

Brian saw a quality in her that she didn’t always advertise.

I didn’t think that somebody would love me the way that he loved me. Through that relationship, I would have softened. Brian used to say I was a marshmallow on the inside anyway.

Sinead went from the expectation of marriage and children to opening condolence cards and picking out a coffin.

She embarked on counselling which she found to be hugely beneficial in terms of trying to live through her tremendous pain.

In hindsight, she says she was going through life with this “unspoken blueprint”. “We are nearly kind of conditioned through school and society that there are certain boxes you tick and certain stages. So it is college, a good paying job that has prospects, then you must meet someone and buy a house. Then you have a family.”

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She had always yearned to have a company of her own but she never thought she could leave the security of life with a multinational.

“Brian died and it threw everything up in the air and I thought ‘hang on a second what do I want’? I did two rounds of counselling and it was amazing. It got me thinking about counselling and coaching.”

One day Sinead had an epiphany while painting her garden fence.

“It dawned on me I would have these random phone calls from friends of friends who would say: ‘I am not really sure what to do with my CV’. Or people would say: ‘I am not really sure what to do performance wise in the business’. All of a sudden I realised I could do this for a living.”

She trained as a personal and business coach and set up shop in Trim. Sinead feels privileged when she helps someone to figure out a problem.

“I feel blessed that I found coaching because I think everybody should be stepping back and evaluating their lives. We live in such busy worlds. We have got the pressures of work, the pressures of being good wives or husbands. There are so many boxes to tick and you have to stand back and ask where is your box? Where is your self-care? Do I even want that box? Does that box serve me?”

Sinead says that counselling got her to a stage where she could get out of bed.

“I wasn’t blaming God for taking him. I could function. Life coaching is the next step.”

Life coaching she emphasises is about helping people to determine what they really want from life free from the constant feeling of expectations.

You are a sister, a wife, a friend. You wear about 20 different hats in any given day. I need to have x amount of money, x car, whatever. Life coaching helps you to understand your goal and to move forward in your life with what you want.

The coaching sessions she has been running largely consist of people in the 35 to 40-age bracket. However, she caters for all age groups. She says that a person can come in about a work-related matter only for the session to become personal. A client recently told her that life coaching had helped her to go on her first date in four years.

Counselling has gained enormous acceptance in Ireland and personal coaching is just another tool of self-care.

Sinead stresses that you don’t have ‘notions’ if you sign up for a few sessions and that her goal is to help people to figure out a life beyond box ticking.

“Add up all the subscriptions you have on Apps on your phone. Add up the bottles of wine you ‘need’ on a Sunday. It is is not “Hashtag notions” to come to sessions.

I remember sitting on the stairs one day. Brian was dead about a year and I was renewing the car insurance. And the guy was saying “what age are you ...35 to 45 and so on?’ All the ‘married single widowed divorced’ questions. I thought ‘what is with the boxes?’ Life coaching is about trying to figure out what you want outside of all the boxes.”

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