LA CRESCENTA (CBSLA.com) — The grieving process can be isolating for young people who have lost a parent, but 20- and 30-somethings in Los Angeles have found a new kind of support system. It’s called The Dinner Party.
“I lost my dad about four years ago to cancer,” said Mary Galindo, a dinner hostess. “I just was really at a loss. I just didn’t know what to do. It just felt like the world kind of just shattered.”
Lennon Flowers, another attendee at the dinner party in the San Gabriel Valley, also lost a parent. Her mom died when she was in college.
Flowers tried grief support groups, but the whole “strangers in cold rooms and fluorescent lights” made her feel even more alone.
With nowhere else to turn, she helped start The Dinner Party.
“I didn’t want a space just for people to be sad and a space to just cry with strangers. I wanted a space that felt good,” said Flowers.
About once a month, a group of people all of whom have lost a parent come together in a safe space to be real.
“We always like to open with a toast celebrating and honoring the people that brought us here and just being thankful that we have a space to be ourselves,” Galindo said.
When she was 19, Cody Brinton’s mother passed away. A few years later, her dad.
For 10 years, Brinton avoided the pain and tried to convince herself she was OK, but she has finally found peace.
“By the end of the 2 ½ hour dinner, you just kinda feel like you’re just with old friends,” she said.
It’s a way to move forward with people who truly understand.
“Reflect on the people who’ve made us and the people who aren’t present anymore and to laugh and to cry and to do all of those things,” Flowers said.
The Dinner Party started two years ago in Los Angeles and has expanded to more than 40 U.S. cities and cities as far away as Sydney, Australia. For more information, click here.