A Grieving Parent’s Hope for Father’s Day

Daniel and Mark Barden

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Our guest blogger is Mark Barden, father of Daniel who was killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2021. Today, Mark works tirelessly to forward Daniel’s legacy and protect all children as co-founder and CEO of Sandy Hook Promise Action Fund. He shared his Father’s Day reflections with USA TODAY.

Father’s Day should be a celebration of family and a reminder of all the great things that come with having children. But for a grieving father, the day can be particularly difficult. The deep sense of loss, seeing the missing faces in my mind, feeling the lost hugs in my heart. Managing difficult emotions can be overwhelming on these special, family-centered days.

I’ve struggled with those emotions since one of my children was murdered nearly a decade ago during one of the worst school shootings in the nation’s history.

I’ve been fortunate to watch my two surviving children, James Barden and Natalie Barden, grow up to be wonderful young adults. But I remain haunted by thoughts about the young adult my sweet little Daniel could have become. The life he should have had.

Daniel Barden, along with 19 other children and six educators, was killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012. His murder still seems so raw to me. With each passing day, I also realize that the gulf of not having him in my life grows larger, and I’m still trying to process the pain.

Read the full article on USA TODAY.