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1: How to Rise Above Pain and Loss with Alissa Parker (Sandy Hook Mom)

Alissa Parker is the mother of Emilie Parker, who was killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012. Alissa's life motto is “Rise Above It” and in this episode she shares the story behind this powerful quote and explains how she has used this motto over and over again to pull herself out of the darkness after the death of her daughter Emilie.


Nuggets of Wisdom in this episode:

“I saw an opportunity for myself. An opportunity to hold onto someone else’s goodness and lightness, and let that lift me. Because I was in a hole that I couldn’t get out of alone. And it was an opportunity to gain strength from someone else’s charity.”

“Evil did not win because there is so much more goodness than there is evil. And that truly is something that I have seen since my daughter’s death. That one act of evil did not define the rest of my life because there is so much more good that will outweigh that one evil act and that one evil choice.”

“When I can focus on the good that is happening around me and I simplify all the unnecessary things, it’s manageable. I can work through it and I can process it.”

“I learned to say no to things that I don’t need in my life.”

“I always imagined forgiveness is kind of a one-and-done thing. You know, you come to a moment where you say, ‘I forgive you.’ And TA-DA, it’s done. And that’s not the case in this situation for me. Forgiveness happens constantly. Every time something happens when I feel this sense of loss – a holiday or a birthday – there’s a moment where I feel this tinge: ‘She should be here. She should be experiencing this and she’s not.’ And I have to choose to forgive over and over. Every time there’s a new loss, I have to make that choice.”

“Rise Above It.”

“What I wanted more than anything was to feel her, because that loss was so incredibly hard. It wasn’t until I really started to feel my heart changing towards the person who killed my daughter that I started to feel her presence in my life. I could feel her influence.”

“There were so many amazing experiences that happened in our family that showed me without a doubt that we were still connected and that she’s still a part of our family.”


Some of Alissa's Favorite Things:

Personal habit: “Talking to myself. Trying to understand why I feel this way. Just understanding the reason for my emotional reactions has helped me tremendously.”

Easy meal: Zuccholini

Zuccholini (Zucchini Enchilada) by Alissa Parker

2 Tbsp. butter
1 1/2 pounds sliced zucchini
1 pound mushrooms, sliced
1 onion, sliced
1/2 cup of salsa
1 1/2 pounds tomatoes, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 pounds Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
10 (10-inch) flour tortillas

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a 9×13″ baking dish.
-Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Mix together the zucchini, mushrooms, onion, tomatoes, salsa, salt and pepper, and add to the skillet. Cook and stir until the vegetables are soft.
-Warm the tortillas 2-3 minutes, until soft, in the preheated oven. Fill the warmed tortillas with zucchini mixture and Monterey Jack cheese, reserving some of both for toppings. Roll the filled tortillas and place them seam side down in the baking dish. Cover with the remaining zucchini mixture. Top with the remaining cheese.
-Bake in the preheated oven 15 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly.

Possession: Camera

“Since losing Emily, I’ve realized how much I value pictures. I love taking pictures and I love my camera.”

Book: True Heroes: A Treasury of Modern-day Fairy Tales Written by Best-Selling Authors This book is inspired by real kids who are going through a significant illness, this collection of short stories is all about the heroes these children hope to be. Includes amazing photos of the kids dressed in character.

Bucket list item: Visit New Zealand for a photography getaway.

Best advice received: “The best thing you can do to help your family is to help yourself.”

Happiest memory: Alissa loves the memory of being together as a family while Emilie was alive and, after searching for weeks, finally finding sand dollars on an East-coast beach.


Alissa's Happiness Formula:

Simplifying + Love + Appreciation=Happiness


A Challenge from Alissa:

Choose to Rise Above It

“We have the choice to rise above it. We have the choice to let it go and worry about the things that are most important in our lives, which is our families and the people that we love”




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About jen

Jen Riday is a mom of 6 and life coach who loves to help women experience massive happiness as they let go of stress, sadness or other chronic emotions of negativity.

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