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Depending on the grief you’re experiencing, your friends and family may not always be able to relate to you on the same level. Of course, they can offer condolences and support, but it’s not quite the same as meeting with people that know exactly what it feels like to come up on a death anniversary or a triggering holiday or another event unique to grief or loss. This week I chatted with Carla Fernandez, co-founder and original host of The Dinner Party community. The family dinner table is sacred ground in the Fernandez family – so when her dad José passed away from brain cancer in 2010, having a potluck with other people who’d lost a parent was a natural way for Carla to unpack the experience of life after loss. Since then, Carla and co-founder Lennon Flowers created an ever growing platform and have hosted thousands of Dinner Partiers turning their heartbreak into connection and healing.
The Dinner Party is a platform for grieving 20-, 30-, and early 40-somethings to find peer community and build lasting relationships. Since 2014, The Dinner Party has connected more than 13,000 grieving peers to one another, including 2,000 since the start of the pandemic. They screen, train and support a growing network of peer hosts, and connect them to 12-15 people nearby, who share a similar age and loss experience.
- Where and who grief support has mainly been catered to in the past and where there is lack of support and resources
- The story of the original dinner party
- When the world woke up to grief: how Covid played into their business and allowed them to reach more people
- How Carla navigated her personal grief process as the organization grew
- Gianna’s first Dinner Party experience
- Different methods of processing grief and why the dinner party can sometimes be a “gateway drug” to other modalities of healing
- Federal and state labor laws around how bereaved people are respected, receive time off and resources
Learn more about The Dinner Party and available grief resources: