Frequently Asked Questions
How do I know if The Dinner Party is right for me?
You’ve experienced significant death loss, whether a parent, sibling, partner, child, or close friend and are among the first in your peer group to experience that kind of loss (**while we understand that loss takes many forms (i.e. break ups, divorce) we do not currently have the capacity to meet needs outside of death or physical loss**)
You understand that you’re joining a community of mostly 20- and 30-somethings because this is an age group that is typically underserved by the traditional grief community—too old for youth grief support and too young for traditional grief support groups where attendees are often older
You have support beyond The Dinner Party and are not relying on TDP as a replacement for therapy
You’re looking to build community with others who have experienced loss, including a commitment to meet on an ongoing basis (not just one time) in the next year
You understand that The Dinner Party will not tolerate racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, classism, ableism, antisemitism, Islamophobia, or any other form of discrimination at the table. In joining a table, you also commit to contributing to an environment that is inclusive for all
Do you only talk about grief and death and sad stuff at Dinner Parties?
Nope! While it’s true that we always keep tissue boxes handy, Dinner Parties tend to run the emotional gamut. Through Dinner Party conversations, we’ve found that the biggest lessons we’ve taken away from the loss of a loved one are not only about death, but also about how best to live. Through loss, we’ve received the memo, in a visceral way, that life is temporary, and that living well is a choice we can all make. Lots of Dinner Parties are about our relationships as siblings, friends, or partners, the career changes we want to explore, or the road trip we’re planning this summer. The experience of loss is a jumping-off point for a conversation about how we’re living - with people who understand our frame of reference.
Where can I find a table?
Depends. We have tables in nearly 100 cities and towns worldwide (see active cities map). If we have seats available, we’ll connect you to a host straightaway.
If all tables are full or we don't yet have a host in your area, we’ll let you know via email what your options are moving forward. One thing we’ve learned over the last few years is that trying to make a table work when there aren’t enough people invested in a location can leave people feeling more isolated after loss rather than less so if we reach out and let you know we can't connect you to a table, please know that's why!
What happens at a Dinner Party?
Once you’re connected to a table in your area, your volunteer Dinner Party host will reach out to say hi and share information about the next dinner. Each table is a little different, but tables typically meet in the host’s home over a potluck meal. Your host will arrange a date and time with the group over email and send out information about what to bring. Folks will arrive and everyone will ease in. Once everyone’s there, it’s dinner time. If it’s your first time gathering, the host will share community guidelines for the evening.
For the first dinner, we’ll typically open with introductions: not your standard, “What do you do?” but rather: “Who are you and what brings you to the table?” The rest of the conversation typically centers on questions like “What do you wish people would ask you?” and “Where are you now?” Once you’ve gotten to know each other’s stories and the context that brings each person here, the second dinner, and every dinner afterward, becomes a chance to check in and continue developing your stories of life after loss together.
Why are you focused on 20- and 30- somethings?
Short answer: because there’s a gap in support. We started The Dinner Party because 20- and 30-somethings are underserved by the traditional grief community -- too old for youth grief support and too young for your average bereavement group, where attendees are often in a different stage of life.
We’re not trying to “solve” grief because grief isn’t something to be solved. Instead, we’re trying to combat the isolation that comes with being among the first in your peer group to lose a parent, sibling, partner, child, or close friend. And while we wish that we could serve every person in the world who experiences significant loss (that is to say, nearly everyone at some point in time), as a staff that remains tight on resources and capacity, we’ve chosen to focus on what we know best: how to provide peer support for a group of people for whom there are not many, if any, other resources that exist.
I'm over the age of 40. How can I get involved?
Losing someone you love can leave a profound impact at any age. And in this death-denying culture of ours, all of us struggle to find spaces where we can talk openly about that experience. Though we only serve 20- and 30-somethings at TDP tables at this time, you’re welcome to sign up for our newsletter and peruse our set of resources crowdsourced from various Dinner Partiers - everything from poems and quotes that have powered us through, to our Holiday Guide to resources outside of Dinner Partying that other have found helpful. You are also welcome to download this free hosting guidebook and create your own Dinner Party group with folks you know.
Can I age out of The Dinner Party?
Heck no. If you’re already part of a table community, it doesn’t matter how old you are. You’re good to go as long as you want to be apart of it!
Is The Dinner Party an alternative to therapy or other forms of grief support?
Dinner parties are a complement to — not a replacement for — other modes of healing or self-care. They’re about building a family of friends around the experience of loss and are not a silver-bullet for making loss easy (if we stumble upon said silver-bullet, we promise to alert the press). We encourage every member of our community to find the support, personal rituals, and healing practices that feed them most, including but not limited to TDP.
Are TDP hosts trained professionals?
No. Dinner Parties are created for and by peers. We see ourselves as a complement to, not a replacement for, the other places you can go to see a professional—therapy, grief counseling, even spin class. For us, we’ve found that real life experience can be the best form of expertise. While we offer in-person and online trainings for hosts, there is no script, and the host is every bit as much a participant as everyone else. We’ve found that’s the best way to keep things casual, fun, and personal. And when everyone has only their own story to go on, it means we’re all equally “expert”: we’re less prone to advice-giving, or attempts to “fix” something, recognizing that what most of us are looking for is a chance to hear and be heard, and to identify with others who’ve been there.
What are the expectations for Dinner Partiers?
Our interests are not solely in what we do, but how we do it. We ask that every member of The Dinner Party community — from staff to hosts to Dinner Partiers — seek to model these core calues and principles, captured in The Dinner Party Covenant.
Our expectations for Dinner Partiers in conversation are simple:
Stick with “I” statements and avoid advice-giving. Remember that no two stories are ever the same.
Share the air. We listen to silence as well as speech, and you are under no obligation to speak: In the words of our friends at The Center for Courage & Renewal, this is not a “share or die” group.
Keep it confidential. What’s said at the table stays at the table.
No grief wars. Parent loss or partner loss. Sudden loss or years of caregiving. No one’s grief is “better” or “worse” that another’s. We’re here to hold space for all of our stories, not just our own.
Joy and sadness are not mutually exclusive. We welcome laughter here as much as we welcome tears.
Are there any other resources you recommend for life after loss?
See our list of recommended resources, including online and offline communities and some of our favorite websites. (Note: All listed resources have come recommended by a Dinner Partier. However, what works for one person may not work for another. Look around until you find something or someone who fits what you're looking for. As always: Do you.) We also recommend checking out a list of our favorite podcasts, readings, quotes, and poems.