Do you stumble and sweat when you try to show up for someone who has just lost a loved one?
Have you lost someone dear and felt like you’re stumbling around alone and in the dark as you navigate your grief?
The truth is, loss is an experience most of us share and feel ill-equipped to face.
LENNON FLOWERS lost her mother to cancer while she was a college student and mostly avoided talking about it for the next three years. Then a co-worker invited her to a dinner with people she knew who’d experienced an acute loss, and they went from strangers to what she calls a “pile of puppies” that night and continued to meet for years.
In this episode, Edina talks with Lennon about her journey of co-creating The Dinner Party, an international community of tables where people connect over living with loss, and how it helped inspire a new kind of dinner party specially designed for Trump’s America. Plus, you’ll hear her tips for how to show up for someone facing loss and why she thinks dinner tables are a form of meditation.
(From left) Emily May, Rev. Jen Bailey and Lennon Flowers on CBS This Morning talking about The People’s Supper. (Click on image to watch.)
I really hope you will sign up for The Dinner Party in your area and host/attend a People’s Supper. And to help you dive in, here’s all the links to the projects and people mentioned in this episode.
- The Dinner Party: A community of mostly 20- and 30-somethings working to transform life after loss from an isolating experience into one marked by community support and candid conversation. (And
- How We Gather Project of Harvard Divinity School (led by Ministry Innovation Fellows Angie Thurston and Casper ter Kuile): Discoveries from the emerging space of secular and spiritual community and meaning makers. This is the “magical retreat at Harvard Divinity School” I mention in the episode, where Lennon and I first met in the aftermath of the 2016 presidential election.
- The People’s Supper: A joint project of The Dinner Party, Faith Matters Network and Hollaback! designed to get people to sit down with one another across political views, across identities, and fully see and hear one another – to believe in and to see each other’s humanity. Over 1,100 suppers have been held around the country since January 2017, including at the first Obama Foundation Summit.
- Faith Matters Network (founded & led by Rev. Jen Bailey): A people of color led collective, working to equip 21st century faith leaders with the tools to build healthy, equitable communities.
- Hollaback! (founded & led by Emily May): A movement to end harassment in public spaces, both online and in the streets.
A little more about why Lennon is a badass… She most recently served as Community Director for Ashoka’s Start Empathy Initiative, where she led efforts to find, coach, and select the next wave of “Empathy Fellows,” and to distill and share the key principles and practices underpinning their work with educators looking to follow their lead.
She’s also written for CNN, Forbes, and GOOD, and has been featured in O Magazine, the New York Times, NPR, On Being, and Los Angeles Magazine for her work with The Dinner Party. She is an Ashoka Fellow and an Aspen Ideas Scholar, and a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill. Lennon met Emily and Jenn as Ashoka Fellows.
If you’re actively grieving & looking for support, check out these referrals from The Dinner Party:
- ModernLoss (in particular, see their list of grief support providers)
- Refuge in Grief
- Hope After Project
- Light After Loss
- Hello Grief