By Darcy Luoma

As we walk past the card aisle of our local grocery store or scroll through our social media feeds, one thing becomes clear. It’s Father’s Day. 

For some of us Father’s Day is a day for celebration—or at least an excuse to pull out the grill. But for others, it can be triggering and a day we’d like to forget about altogether. It can be a traumaversary. 

I understand. My ex-husband is currently serving a prison sentence, meaning our daughters won’t get to see their dad on Father’s Day . The sadness is further magnified by the trauma of his arrest five years ago for sexual assault of a minor he had met online. 

While some of us would like nothing more than to take an eraser to our traumaversaries, they can be an opportunity for us to be Thoughtfully Fit and practice Strength. That can be easier said than done. It takes internal Strength to acknowledge our emotions and consciously choose how we want to show up, even amidst the pain. That can be a heavy lift. But each time we exercise Strength, making it through our hallmark holidays becomes a little easier.

For those experiencing similar struggles this Father’s Day, here are three tips that might help you:

  1. Acknowledge Your Emotions 

Traumaversaries can bring up emotions you don’t expect or want. But denying or ignoring those emotions is a surefire way to make them come flooding back. So, let go of any judgment of how you’re feeling—or any expectation of what you should be feeling. 

Instead, recognize and name the emotion. You can start by asking yourself how you’re feeling and what’s causing that feeling. By creating that deeper awareness of yourself and your emotions, you can then choose thoughtfully how you want to move forward.

  1. Consider Your Choices

As much as we wish we could change the past or control the actions of another person, the reality is we can’t. But moving forward with Strength means understanding what you can control and unlocking the choices you do have. You may not be able to spend the day with your dad, but you still have choices. 

You could do an activity that reminds you of time you spent with your dad, or that you wish you had spent with him. Or you could look at pictures and journal a message to him. Or maybe you choose to spend the entire day focused on self-care. Explore your choices and take intentional action about how you want to spend the day.

  1. Ask for What You Need

It might be hard to let others know you’re struggling. But people who love you will want to help. Or they might avoid you altogether because they don’t know what to say. Don’t make them be a mind reader. Let them know what you need or want. It can be a difficult conversation, requiring courage, but it’ll be so worth it. Your loved ones will appreciate not having to guess, and you’ll feel better getting the support you need.

Consciously choosing how we want to show up during a traumaversary can be challenging. It takes Strength to not default to being on autopilot. Having gotten through the past five Father’s Days with my daughters, I’ll admit that it’s still a struggle for us, but one that has gotten easier every year. 

When we’re Thoughtfully Fit, we take time to create awareness around our emotions and our choices. With practice and patience, the pain of traumaversaries will fade until we can peacefully walk through the aisles of the grocery store, scroll our social media feeds, and even enjoy a good cookout. 

Darcy Luoma, author of Thoughtfully Fit: Your Training Plan for Life and Business Success , is a Master Certified Coach, dynamic facilitator, and inspiring motivational speaker. She has worked as director for a U.S. Senator, deputy transition director for a governor, and on the national advance team for two U.S. presidential campaigns. As the owner and CEO of Darcy Luoma Coaching & Consulting, she’s worked in forty-eight industries with more than five hundred organizations to create high-performing people and teams. The media has named Darcy the region’s favorite executive-and-life coach four times. Darcy balances her thriving business with raising her two energetic teenage daughters, adventure travel, and competing in triathlons.