A dinner party is usually a time to catch up with old friends about all the good things happening in your life.
Some dinner parties around North Carolina flipped the script, and people are showing up to eat and talk about tougher times.
On a rainy Tuesday night in Charlotte, friends gather for food, wine, and something more valuable.
"I think in this day and age it is so hard to find real community and to find real in-person connection," said Emily Barnhardt, who is the host of the first Charlotte Dinner Party Table.
That connection is critical and comforting, because being here requires a reservation no one wants.
"It is an incredibly isolating event. There are no real outlets," said Emily Helms, who lost her mother as a young child.
Everyone here shares laughs, and loss.
"Hannah Flanery. She was 20 years old. She died by suicide," said Emily Barnhardt, who lost her best friend.
"My mom's name was Jodi Lynn Miller Helms and she was 41 whens he passed away," said Emily Helms."
"Aaron Shapiro. 29. Uhm -- Overdose," explained Ashley Shaprio, who lost her brother.
This is "The Dinner Party."
A unique way to talk about grief, and loss, with other who have shared a similar path.
"The fact that I haven't deleted her number from my cell phone and I wondered if I ever will and I wondered if that was crazy until we talked about it at a Dinner Party one night," said Barnhardt.
"Initially when you lose someone there is a lot of lasagnas and casseroles that are coming your way as well as words, and kind thoughts. After that much time though, it becomes a little more of a taboo topic to talk about. It's not that people don't want to talk to you about it, it's that they don't know how," said Helms.
So in many ways you lose more than just the person who died.
"Rough. Ups and downs. Lots of downs. Inconsistent. Hard. As you would probably guess," said Shapiro.
"It was dark. It was hard. It was devastating. Lonely. Really lonely," said Barnhardt.
Each month these ladies, who didn't know each other before The Dinner Party gather to just be.
Be listened to.
"One of the biggest things is just the ability to say 'Oh my mom would have loved this!' can shut down a conversation really quickly. We can't bring that up in a regular day, and the kind of stress that that causes and we can't bring them up in conversation and how painful that can be," said Helms.
But surprisingly, where the centerpiece is grief, this table is full or laughter and love.
"Tell me about this. Do you have brothers? So we were joking like how do you say that? One date I was like 'My brothers dead, and like mic drop.' With them, they get it."
The Dinner Party proves comfort food, isn't about the food at all.
"It will never go away. The pain will never stop, but being around these people makes things feel -- at least I'm understood. The pain is still there, but we still have a life to live & a life to live. These people want to do it the right way and that is by honoring the people that we love," said Helms.
If you want to join, or start your own Dinner Party -- check out how -- here