Published 11.23.2021

Written by Darcy Luoma

Darcy Luoma is one of America’s most highly credentialed coaches. She’s worked in 48 industries, with more than 500 organizations, and has impacted tens of thousands of leaders and employees.

Developing Endurance from Traumaversaries

Earlier this year, I wrote an article for Hitched Magazine about Father’s Day. I argued that Hallmark holidays aren’t always a positive experience for those with family trauma and offered some tips to help deal with those struggles.

For me, Father’s Day brought up a complicated mix of emotions this year. I thought of my ex-husband—and father of my two daughters—and the fact that it’s been five years since his shocking arrest. This experience was traumatic for me, to say the least

Since John’s arrest, Father’s Day has had elements of a “Traumaversary” in some ways (though I’m always grateful to celebrate my own dad on this special day). Another form of Traumaversary is the “firsts” without a loved one.

A different sort of Thanksgiving

Today, as the first Thanksgiving without my mom draws nearer, I feel emotional and sad. We’re blessed to be surrounded by amazing family and friends, but we’ll miss my mom’s love, compassion and generous spirit—especially her special connection to her four grandkids. 

For those facing traumatic memories or the loss of a loved one this holiday season, it can be tempting to try not to think about the pain. Whether you overindulge in food, drink, technology or something else, there are so many ways to numb our suffering. I’m not immune to this myself: I’ve had a life-long struggle with food addiction.

But what if we instead saw our Traumaversary as an opportunity to practice the endurance it takes to overcome challenging obstacles? We can’t choose to not experience pain in our lives, but we can choose how we deal with that pain.

If you’re facing a Traumaversary of your own this holiday season, I invite you to reflect on the following three ideas: accept, acknowledge and ask.

Accept your feelings

If you’ve been through the trauma of the death of a loved one, it’s entirely human to feel deep emotions. It would actually be surprising if you didn’t feel some degree of sadness and loss.

If you repress your feelings, they’re bound to come back stronger at a later date. You may even find yourself acting them out without realizing it. 

So instead, recognize the emotions you’re feeling. Name them. Write them down. If that’s too overwhelming, start by approaching your feelings with curiosity, as if you were listening to a good friend.

Acknowledge that you have a choice

As much as we’d like to bring back those we’ve lost, that’s just not possible. But we can select how we respond to the pain of that loss in the present, and make a conscious choice that helps us endure what we went through with dignity.

What’s the choice you can make that would best honor your Traumaversary?

It might be:

  • Cooking a special meal that your loved one would’ve enjoyed
  • Spending the day in nature practicing self-care
  • Leaving an empty spot for your loved one at your family gathering
  • Going through old photos and videos of your family member

There’s no right and wrong here. Do whatever feels best for you.

Ask for what you need

Even the most resilient of people need help from others to endure trauma. 

If the pain of your loss is too hard to bear alone, don’t suffer in silence. Your friends and family want to be there for you, but they can’t read your mind. 

Perhaps you don’t feel up to hosting Thanksgiving this year. Or maybe the festivities will need to be a bit shorter, so you have enough time for you.

It can take courage to ask for what you need, but it’s worth it.

One-Minute Core Workout

How can you practice Endurance on your Traumaversary this year? It always comes back to your core.

    1. Pause. Notice when you’re triggered by your past traumas. Stop yourself before you reach for any impulsive coping mechanisms.
    2. Think. What emotions are you feeling? How can you choose to honor your feelings of loss?
    3. Act. Ask friends and family for the help and space you need to process your Traumaversary.

I hope you find peace and joy this Thanksgiving holiday. As I reflect on my challenges and losses this past year, I’m so grateful to have a company I love, working with an amazing team, doing work I’m passionate about with awesome clients.

I thank each of you for joining me every week for these Thoughtfully Fit Tips to learn and grow together and to explore ways to handle life’s hurdles thoughtfully.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thoughtfully Fit One-Minute Workout inside the Thoughtfully Fit Wheel

Recommendation

Are you a leader looking to increase your endurance? If so, check out Stacey Hanke’s book Influence Redefined. It comes with a step-by-step method for avoiding self-sabotage and optimizing your communication.

IS YOUR MIND FIT FOR SUCCESS?