Richard Dweck: From Loss to a Shared Life

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About Our Guest

I met Richard Dweck 15 years ago. Though we didn't spend a lot of time together, I always remember him as a business driven, caring and curious person. He founded his own company, and worked as a technology consultant for years. He had two children and he was incredibly proud of both of them. I still remember when he sat in the passenger seat while Adam (our associate producer) and I drove to have dinner one night some 8 or 9 years ago. Richard turned around and told us about his daughter Samantha, who had recently been accepted to Brown University in Rhode Island. 

On January 25th, 2015, I came home from work and found out that Samantha had passed away in a kayaking accident. She was 24 years old. I remember sitting in the dark, for a long time, not being able to process what had happened. I still can't.  

Not long before we lost Samantha, I had just attended another friend's funeral, a young woman I had known for years. I was struggling with grief, doubts and confusion. 

Fast forward 2.5 years later, Richard reached out to me. It was an important moment for our friendship. He offered to share his journey as a grieving father who has gone a long way since I last saw him at Samantha's service. Today, he's a Pilates instructor and a photographer - these are the things Samantha enjoyed and now they are crucial elements of Richard's new life.  

It took an extraordinary amount of courage to share his stories on the show. Richard has gone through counseling himself and is now offering his helping hands to others who have lived through the pain of losing their children. 

I want to dedicate this episode to Samantha Dweck and her family. If you are so lucky to have met her, please share this story, and your stories about Samantha. 

To meet Richard and his work as a photographer, please visit his website: http://www.rdweck.com/

To learn more about Samantha and her life, I welcome you to read her obituary here. , also read by me at the end of the episode. 

Show Notes

  • [06:00] Richard on how Grief Counseling helped him in the past 2.5 years
  • [08:00] Richard on how and why he decided to start teaching Pilate.
  • [15:00] What are some of the photos you are working on right now, after your travels? What are some of the collections you are thinking to produce?
  • [17:00] Richard on how traveling helped him with his healing journey. Places, experiences, photos.
  • [20:00] How did you decide to become a resource to other people, to help others going through the same experience?
  • [23:00] Out of the people that you meet at Grief Counseling workshops/retreats, what did you learn from their experiences? Can you relate to them?
  • [24:00] Richard on what Grief Counseling is.
  • [27:00] Richard, who was Samantha? Tell us about her.
  • [30:00] What was Samantha like? What did she do and enjoyed the most in life?
  • [38:00] Richard sharing some stories about his trips with Samantha -- Barcelona and Europe.
  • [41:00] How people should approach you about Samantha and in general?
  • [43:00] Fei reflecting on a personal experience and how it relates to Richard’s journey.

Quotes

[9:00] "Four months after she died, I was killing myself in this Pilate class and I thought ‘why am I doing this’? I looked down at Samantha’s mat and I realized she was a gymnast. That was the first sign that my life could not only be mine, but could be ours."

[10:00] "When Samantha died, my life ended. When you lose a child, the life you know is over. I could actually feel the air blowing through my heart. I couldn’t even breathe. I had to rebuild my life. I just couldn’t do any of what I was doing anymore at all. I had to start from scratch and rebuild a life, and I wanted to build a life that had meaning and that had purpose. Now I realize, I am living OUR life."

[24:00] "Grief Counseling is doing nothing but just being there to listen for people. Just to hear what they have to say, what they want to express. Not try to help them or change them or teach them or guide them. Someone who... can listen..."

[41:00] "Almost nobody talks about Samantha now, because they don’t want to bring me down. However, it is not talking about Samantha what brings me down. It makes her present and alive..."

 

Celebrating Samantha Dweck's life - let's share her favorites, tag #fastasSam when you visit next! 

 

A needlepoint made by one of Sam's November Project mates, gifted to Richard Dweck

A needlepoint made by one of Sam's November Project mates, gifted to Richard Dweck


Acknowledgements/Music

I Remember You - Jonny Easton

Music License: Creative Commons