Guest Post: Dr. Phil Dembo!

It’s been a week and I’ve been hiding under a rock. While all the other bloggers in the nation have popped up in the last week to share their thoughts on Sandy Hook, I’ve basically curled up into a little ball and haven’t said a word. I think that part of me thinks that I just have nothing to add that hasn’t  been said… but I know that’s silly. I guess, in order to really, truly acknowledge it on my blog I have to ‘go there’ – in my mind, in my heart, I have to go there… and I’m just not ready.

But I do want to acknowledge it here, as it should be acknowledged everywhere so those children and teachers are never forgotten and so I am sharing Dr. Dembo’s personal story about this topic…



Posted December 16th, 2012

Sandy Hook Elementary School started the day like every other elementary school in America.

In this country, parents and their children wake up each day with their morning rituals.

Parents can be heard from house to house making sure that their kids brush their teeth, make their beds, eat a little breakfast, and have their backpacks ready to go.

All over this great land of ours, parents and kids kiss goodbye as parents go off to work and kids head to class.  The furthest thing from anybody’s mind is that this could be the last time they actually get to kiss their child goodbye.

But, for 20 families from Sandy Hook Elementary in suburban Connecticut, that is exactly what happened today!


Unbelievable! Unthinkable! Unimaginable! Unspeakable!

But, excruciatingly true!!


The 20 year old son of a woman who worked at the school walked into the building and killed his mother, 20 children, and many other adults before turning the gun on himself and committing suicide.

The story for me seems to pale in comparison (if that’s possible) to the immense magnitude of grief for everyone involved…every student, every sibling, every friend, every neighbor, every coworker, and of course, every parent…And to every other parent who has lost their own child, like my beautiful wife Linda!

Six years ago, May 7, 2007, I stood and watched as they buried my 13 year old step son into the ground.

Unbelievable! Unthinkable!  Unimaginable! Unspeakable!

But, excruciatingly true!

He died unexpectedly of a surgery gone wrong.  Watching his mother, my wife, bury her son is a moment of horror that never leaves me.  Holding her close through her night terrors during the nights that followed never truly ends.

My wife lost her son.

We lost a child.

And it never ends, it never goes away.

Ours is the story of one family’s child and the possible risks associated with any type of medical procedure of this sort.

You don’t expect it but, unfortunately, these things do happen.


But, going to school??

Going to school is supposed to be the safest place other than ones family home.

Going to school is where you go to learn, to be with your friends, and to spend the day until you come home and say hello to your parents again.

Going to school is NOT where you go to die.

Life isn’t supposed to end in tragedy.

Life is supposed to end when we are finished with it.

Perhaps the 20 year old shooter was finished with his life, but these children were not.

They were just beginning to live.

There will be no end to the magnitude of this grief.

There will be no making sense of this horrible waste.

There will only be the night terrors for these parents, these families, and for all of us who understand this moment for what it is…..

…Life ending before anyone was ready for it.


Never getting to say goodbye never leaves you.

It’s just not supposed to be this way.




Dr. Dembo’s book The Real Purpose of Parenting: The Book You Wish Your Parents Read is available on and, and in Barnes and Noble bookstores. You can visit his blog here. 


Love & Muchness, Tova

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