Who We Are
The Dinner Party is a community of men and women out to change the way we approach loss and life after. Through beautiful, unstructured dinner parties hosted by friends for friends both old and new, we invite those who’ve experienced significant loss to dive into long-tabooed territory, sharing a defining part of ourselves that rarely sees the light of day. Together, we’re creating a space to explore the many ways – good, ugly, and everything in between – in which loss continues to color our lives and the lessons about living well that we’ve learned along the way.
We want to realize a day in which anyone anywhere who loses someone they love can join a Dinner Party in their area, or with the help of tools and a growing peer community, start a table of their own. Building off our established circles, we’re growing a national network of Dinner Party participants. And we’re not stopping there: we’re working to collect and share resources on navigating life after loss, and to generate a broader dialogue among those who have yet to undergo the experience. The end goal? To change the very way in which we conceive of and talk about life after loss.
Confronting death and issues of mortality is a challenging act at any age. For most young adults today, it is a subject of taboo. Lacking a peer community with whom to share the experiences, those who have lost a parent, sibling, or partner choose to keep it private. We see the deer-in-headlights expressions on the faces of those who’ve never been there, and quickly change the subject. Without other examples to draw upon, we fear we’re not doing it right, or that there’s something wrong with us. We learn to hold back and hold in what for many of us has been the most significant event in our lives to date.
The limited spaces that do exist for talking about and openly reflecting on loss suffer from the same stigmas as loss itself: the very words "grief group" evoke images of folding chairs housed in church basements. We picture sterile rooms and fluorescent lights, and structured gatherings divided clearly along patient-therapist lines. Two, six, and sixteen years out, we no longer identify with the very words “grief,” and “mourning,” and resist what feels like an open declaration that there is something wrong. Once again, we keep our experiences to ourselves.
Why We Need Your Help
Since our first dinner party in the Fall of 2010, our table has grown to include Dinner Party circles across Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington, DC, and New York City—all spread via word-of-mouth, as friends and friends of friends caught wind. The result is that there's currently more demand for The Dinner Party than we can accommodate. As we enter this next chapter, we want to be able to meet that demand, by growing our network of hosts and hostesses, and equipping them with the tools and support they need to create and sustain flourishing circles across the country.
Over the next year, we aim to:
Find and support 20-30 amazing new hosts, and share everything we know through our first-ever training retreats in May and June 2014. We’re creating a growing community of old and new friends whose stories are known to one another, and who can celebrate one another’s successes and meaningfully support one another when in need.
Surface & share recipes, rituals, resources from across our community online and in print. There is no a guidebook to life after loss – a single set of steps to move through this major milestone. What resources do exist – be they found in the bereavement section in the library, or through a local support group – tend to be expert-driven, time-stamped, and culturally out of touch. We’re out to curate stories and practices from real people for real people, so that those who experience loss before their peers are equipped not with a map, but with a compass.
Change the conversation. Breaking down cultural taboos around loss demands that we likewise engage those who haven’t lived it yet. Through articles, events, & resources, we’re beginning to engage a wider network of people interested in joining a dialogue about loss and life after, and learning how best to support grieving friends and loved ones.
We're looking for donations and other forms of support in order to recruit and train hosts from across the country, and to continue to grow our online platform.
Other Ways You Can Get Involved
Giving through the campaign is one of many ways you can help build The Dinner Party from the ground up. A few other ways to get involved:
Host: Interested in hosting your own circle? We’re looking for spirited self-starters--both in cities where we’re already active and elsewhere--who are ready to go deep and are looking to meet others in their community. To find out more about what it takes to be a great host, click here. To apply, click here.
Dine: We currently have active circles in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington, DC, New York City, and Baltimore, and encourage you to reserve your seat at our next table. And in the event that all of our tables are full or there isn’t yet a Dinner Party in your area, we’ll keep your info on hand, and connect you to others as soon as we have enough demand to start a table. Email us at email@example.com to find out more.
In-kind support: Have a space you’d like to share? Interested in providing food or drinks? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Write: Have a ritual or recipe you’d like to share? Perhaps a family recipe, or something that’s helped you to navigate life after loss. We want to hear about it. You know the drill: write us at email@example.com.
Together, let's kick the elephant out of the room. Join us.