Welcome to the club that no one wanted to join: The Dinner Party. The Dinner Party is a space where people in their 20s and 30s who have experienced the loss of a parent, sibling, partner, child, or close friend meet on an ongoing basis to #realtalk about loss and life after. Are you a current Dinner Partier looking for more information? Read on.
What can I expect at my first dinner?
Ahhh your first dinner! First of all, it’s ok to feel *all the nerves.* Meeting strangers and talking about loss? We know it sounds a bit strange and we also know something else: it works.
After you’re connected to your Dinner Party host, you should hear from them within a few weeks welcoming you to the table and sharing information (date/time/location) for the next dinner. You may also receive a Doodle poll with a few possible dates and times when your table is planning to meet. Before your first dinner, it’s totally normal to wonder, “Why am I doing this again?!” But we hear from people time and time again that most folks leave their first dinners thinking, “I’m so glad I took this risk and met new people who have also lost someone far too young instead of sitting and watching Netflix at home” (though we’re big fans of Netflix, too...). test
Each Dinner Party table is a little different and develops its own identity, but typically tables meet in the host’s home over a (low-key, if-it’s-a-choice-between-bringing-yourself-or-a- casserole-please-bring-yourself) potluck dinner. Once you arrive, your host may kick things off with the TDP Manifesto or a welcome. You’ll likely set some community expectations as a group and then dive into introductions -- who are you and what brings you to the table? The conversation naturally flows from there and your host may have other questions planned, but feel free to ask questions and bring up topics you’ve been aching to talk about yourself (i.e. dating after loss, how loss has affected your job, family dynamics post-loss). When the conversation winds down and the host is ready to close out, you might end the evening with a question about how you’ll care for yourself between now and the next dinner, what you learned tonight, a question you’re still holding, or a ritual or reading from your host. And you’ll hopefully step outside feeling ready to see the people you met tonight again in a month or two.
What if I don't have time to cook something?
For something called The Dinner Party, the dinner is the least important part! Please don’t let this be the thing that keeps you from attending your group. If your grief is feeling particularly heavy or your day gets unexpectedly busy and you don’t have time, just bring yourself and your story. It will be enough.
I'm so excited about my table. Can I invite my friend who has also experienced loss?
We’re so glad you’re experiencing the magic of TDP! You can totally invite friends to join. However, we need every incoming Dinner Partier to fill out join a table and pay their own membership fee (or let us know they’d like the fee waived) before attending their 1st dinner. We also ask that you check in with your host to see if adding your friend is ok and think about whether you care about anonymity at the table (as many Dinner Partiers do) or feel fine about having someone at your table who knows you. If you talk about how grief is affecting your relationship with your partner, will you feel weird having your friend there? If so, you can share the link to join and recommend they attend a different table.
Life has been hectic and I haven't been able to make it to my table for a few months...should I still go?
Yes please! Give your host the heads up that you’ll be there so they know to expect you, but know that you’re welcome to come no matter how long it’s been. If other folks at the table have met multiple times and are already familiar with each other’s stories, feel free to pipe up during introductions and share whatever’s been on your mind or brings you back to the table.
I haven't heard from my host in a while. What should I do?
The first thing you should do is reach out to them! If you don’t have their contact information or don’t hear back for a few weeks, reach out to the Regional Manager who connected you to your table and they can follow up.
What do tables talk about?
Oh-so-many things. The Dinner Party is a place to talk about all of the things you wish your friends understood but they don’t. What it was like to see your parent through hospice. How losing your sibling made you want to live a life of meaning. The stuckness you feel after losing your partner. It’s also a place to celebrate each other. Telling your new partner about your dead person for the first time. Getting a new job that would make your dead parent proud. Anything and everything about loss and life after is on the table.
How did you pick my host?
Hosts come to TDP much like other members of our community – through friends, word of mouth, and sometimes from existing tables. Hosts are volunteer members of our community who commit to organizing/scheduling dinners, providing physical space, and gently guiding the conversation. All hosts are screened by the TDP staff and are trained over the phone and via resources on facilitation, organizing, and other tips for hosting. Most of our hosts are unicorn gems who we love and admire so much, but if you ever have a concern about your TDP host, you’re welcome to reach out directly to the Regional Manager who connected you to your table.
Something happened that made me feel uncomfortable at my table. What should I do?
Ugh, first of all, we’re so sorry that this happened. What happens next depends on the context, but as a community of grieving people all trying to do our best, we first recommend respectful, thoughtful, and direct communication. If one person said something that made you feel uncomfortable at the table, we might recommend that you conjure up the courage to email them and gently let them know. We ask that you try to temper your assumptions and believe in the other person’s good will (i.e. “You might not have meant it this way, but when you said that, I felt ________.”)
If you’re uncomfortable with your host’s behavior or the general dynamic of a table, again this is something that you could try sharing directly with your host, but that’s also what The Dinner Party staff is here for! Contact the person who connected you to your table and they’ll be happy to have a troubleshooting phone call with you to figure out how we can improve your TDP experience and what comes next.
I'd like to change tables or host my own. What do I do next?
So glad you’re practicing agency with your TDP experience! To apply to host, simply see our hosting page here and submit an application online. Based on demand in your area, someone from Community Management team will be in touch with you in the next 4-6 weeks. If you’d like to change tables, email the Regional Manager who connected you to your table and they can look into seeing if there’s an open seat that’s a good fit for you.
How do I donate to the The Dinner Party or volunteer my time?
Donate here to ensure other people have the same experience you’ve had. If you want to volunteer, we ask that you send an email to email@example.com. Right now, we are looking for volunteers to help with:
Graphic design projects
Lawyer for our board (or connections to pro-bono law firms that work with nonprofit organizations)
Hosting local events for Dinner Partiers beyond the table — whether an all-Dinner Partier happy hour, film screening, panel about how to support other through life after loss, or more. Apply to host an event here (please not that a TDP event is NOT a table. to host an ongoing peer-led support table, apply here.