An Unseen Angel: A Mother's Story of Faith, Hope, and Healing after Sandy Hook

An Unseen Angel: A Mother's Story of Faith, Hope, and Healing after Sandy Hook

by Alissa Parker


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As the mother of one of the children who died at Sandy Hook school in Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012, Alissa Parker had her world shattered by a mass murderer's rampage. She was left to make sense of her daughter's life and death and to rebuild, seeking a deeply spiritual path to carry on with her life and find new meaning and purpose.

As a co-founder of, a touring national advocacy group that helps people take action to make schools safer, Alissa has talked to hundreds of parents around the country about her ordeal and how she was able to endure the unspeakable horror of Sandy Hook.

An Unseen Angel takes readers though Alissa's complete journey, chronicling the moment-by-moment account of the day that began with every parent's worst nightmare: hearing, "There's been a shooting at your child's school." It follows her faith-filled spiritual path to coping, healing, forgiving, and eventually feeling gratitude for the life and love of her daughter Emilie. She describes a bond of love between a mother and daughter that is so profound it transcends the physical body and touches Alissa and the people who loved Emilie who feel her presence every day. And she articulates her deep Christian faith, which guided the answers to Alissa's gut-wrenching, post-tragedy questioning:
  • "Where is Emilie now?"
  • "Can love transcend the physical body?"
  • "How can I know that Emilie is in a better place?"
  • "How do I deal with the 'here and now' when the pain and anger I feel is so overwhelming?"
This is the first book about the school-shooting tragedies with a focus on faith and spirituality. As we learn Alissa's story, we are introduced to a special little girl who was wise beyond her years and whose lessons about life and the transcendent power of love continued even after she had passed away.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781629722795
Publisher: Shadow Mountain Publishing
Publication date: 04/04/2017
Pages: 192
Sales rank: 241,880
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.60(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Alissa Parker is the mother of one of the twenty children who died tragically in the Sandy Hook school shootings in Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012.

After Emilie's death, Alissa began TheParkerFive blog as a tool to express the emotions she and her family experienced throughout the grieving process. She is also the co-founder of, which helps people take action to make schools safer, and The Emilie Parker Art Connection, a charity helping local community art programs for children.
  • The Parker Five Blog ( 3.5 million p/v; Visitors: 922,689
  • The Emilie Parker Art Connection ( 297K Facebook followers
  • Safe and Sound Schools ( Since 2013, 200K+ visitors to the website, 100K people have downloaded free online materials for use in their school or professional community, more than 30,000 people have attended a speaking engagement or workshop, 6K+ social media followers. Organization has also visited schools in 31 states.

Read an Excerpt

Writing a book about losing Emilie wasn't something I had planned to do. To begin with, I'm very private and reserved. Also, after Emilie died I couldn't bear to think about what had happened to her, much less write about it. Nor, I believe, do most people want to read about something so sad. But violence, grief, and loss are not what this book is primarily about; at least, I prefer not to look at it that way. Although it contains tragedy, my story is ultimately not tragic. The story I feel compelled to share is one of help and healing. It is a story of how God's love and protection surrounded me during my darkest hour.

I have always believed that family is eternal, that we are bound with our loved ones by a tie that outlasts disaster and death. But when Emilie died, my faith in this principle was put to the ultimate test. I asked God again and again to help me feel Emilie's presence, to confirm that she still was with me and that our family was and is forever connected. In His own time, he gave me this reassurance. I was granted very sacred personal experiences that allowed me to see and feel Emilie in the small and simple occurrences of daily life. I have no doubt whatsoever that Emilie lives, that she is still a part of my family, and that we will be reunited in God's time.

As I have pondered my experiences in writing this book, I have come to realize how truly blessed I have been. I can clearly see that God was indeed faithful to his promises to me the day Emilie died. His help has radically changed my life. I have finally come to the understanding that Emilie's story is one of joy.

Emilie had six wonderful years on this earth. She made every day beautiful. She saw the world in color and spent every moment she could trying to capture that beauty in her artwork to share with others. Through all the pain, I have come to feel this truth with every fiber in me: Emilie's was a beautiful life. I feel honored to have been a part of it. God loves Emilie, and, even now, Emilie has a happy life, even if it didn't follow my plan for her "happy endings."

This is her story.

Table of Contents


Book I: Before
1: My Forever Family
2: Going on Ahead
3: The Unthinkable
4: I Hope You Believe in Heaven
5: Pink Ribbons
6: Say Good-Bye, Say Nothing

Book II: After
7: God's Hands
8: A Mother's Prayer
9: He Told Me His Name
10: Look Toward the Light
11: To Help You through Your Pain
12: Alone in the World
13: Face to Face
14: Hairy Monsters and Tiny Teacups
15: A Bigger God
16: Blessings from a Blog
17: Purple Blossoms
18: Streams of Mercy
19: Angels Round About You
20: The Other Rider
21: Everything Is Connected
22: Emilie's Shady Spot
23: Butterflies from Emilie
24: An Angel to Others
25: A New Life



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An Unseen Angel: A Mother's Story of Faith, Hope, and Healing after Sandy Hook 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I think I must have cried 50 times while reading this. Although I am not religious this book spoke to me and showed me that religion really saved this women and her family. We have all lost somebody that we love and this book gave me hope that those people are always watching over us and that there truly are angels. Thank you for writing this. It is a message of Hope for those who are grieving. GodBless ?
chickangell More than 1 year ago
I wanted to kick my mother so hard when I got into the book because silly me, I started reading without knowing what I was reading, and she KNOWS I cannot not finish something once I've started! Seriously, I balled while reading this book. Not only because it was about an event that struck me really hard when I read about it in the press. (my boys were only a bit older than those children, and I am a helicopter mom as is) but because it is told from the perspective of the mother of one of those children, sharing every mother's worst nightmare, and how her family was able to come through it. It was made all the more poignant by the fact that I am living in SLC and recognize a lot of the places mentioned in the book and the actions and behaviors of people in the book, being immersed in the culture out here. What I love most about this book is that it doesn't focus on the killer, it doesn't focus on the crime, it focuses on the remembering of one of the victims, and on the path the family took to not let this horrible tragedy define them and their daughter, but to instead choose a different path and to not be victims, but survivors. If you are looking for a good cry, a book that explores how one's faith can help one through horrific situations, and how a couple can survive what many other couples do not, then this is the read for you.
lilacqueen75 More than 1 year ago
I didn't want to read this book at first because I remember this incident and it was horrifying. How could a mother find peace and hope after this? I was intrigued by that thought and opened it up. And I read the whole thing in one sitting, all while crying my eyes out. Alissa Parker is an amazing woman and I loved reading about her journey to finding it in her heart to forgive, therefore finding peace. Her sweet little girl was only 11 days younger than my youngest daughter, so this tragedy hit home. Emilie packed a lot of life into a short amount of time and I think even after her death, through this book, she's going to be touching many lives. The Sandy Hook shooting ripped the hearts of many around the world--so many young, innocent lives lost. How could it be possible to move past that. I love that it's a process and it's not an easy road to travel. This author gives hope to many, not just those in her circumstance, by showing the steps she took and by realizing the many miracles, blessings, and tender mercies that happened around that time and afterward. I seriously couldn't put it down and was deeply moved. I think if all of us in times of trial reflect on our faith, no matter what it is, and take the time to grieve and heal, we, too, can find that peace. Content: nothing too graphic, but it definitely tugs on the heart (violence); religious elements *I received a copy through the publisher, which did not affect my thoughts in any way.*
quibecca More than 1 year ago
Actually I don't believe there is a high enough star rating for this book. It deserves at least 10. It's an awe inspiring book about faith and healing in the face of tragedy. I have been trying to put my words on paper about this book. Then I decided there are no words that would adequately express how much this book touched my heart. I had a chance to hear Alissa talk about her tragedy in person. It was just as hard to put into words then how I felt as it is now after reading the book. I am also a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Her stories inspired me, and touched me so deeply and still do. It wasn't until I finished reading her book, that I realized it doesn't matter what religion, background and color etc. we may be, this book is inspiring. It teaches about love, healing, and finding our way though tragedy. Every one will experience some kind of tragedy, at some point in their life. Whether little or big. What this book teaches, is how to go about healing after the tradegy without becoming bitter. I cannot imagine what Alissa and her husband Robbie and family went through on that fateful day, and still do. Yet she has found a way to be happy and find healing in the simple things in life. She has found a way to connect with her sweet child that is no longer with her physically on this earth, but is still very much with her. I cannot tell you how emotional this book made me either. This is hands down one of my biggest fears every day as a mother. When I send my kids off to school every day, and have actually gone through some shut downs at school because of kids who make bad choices. I cannot fathom a life without my children in it. Yet, I see through this book, and through my own faith that we are never really separated. Though we may not always be together physically, we will always be together. If you are suffering with loss in any way, please take a moment to read this book. It doesn't take long. It is powerful, and uplifting. It is inspiring. Although the reason for this book is horribly tragic, the words written on the paper and the sweet pictures included, far out weigh the tragedy. I cannot thank Alissa enough for being willing to put her thoughts into words to inspire others. This book has changed my life. It has given me a greater understanding of life after death. It has increased my faith, and understanding of the importance of always treasuring those moments with our kids while they have been placed in our possession on this earth. I could go on an on about how much this book has touched and inspired me, so I hope you take the opportunity to experience it for yourself. You will not regret it. The sweet feeling of peace that came over me while reading it, I hope will stay with me for a very long time. Source: I was given this book as part of a blog tour. I was not compensated in any way for this review. These are my own PERSONAL thoughts on the book.