The Dinner Party DC sat down for its first feast of 2013 last Sunday. On the menu: mushroom bourguignon, roasted brussels sprouts, orzo and collard greens, spiced chickpeas, matching salads (a craving for candied walnuts, apples, and blue cheese was in the air, it seemed), and a key lime pie, a family favorite for one member of our company. We were joined by faces old and new, for a total of nine. We began by sharing what brought us to the table, and reflecting on where each of us happened to be at that moment; as is often the case with first-time introductions, each story sparked its own conversation thread, and we made it back around the table only as dessert was served. We talked about wanting to connect around loss, without subjecting ourselves to a future “in fetal position,” as one gal so aptly put it. We talked about self-care: about what happens when there’s no one left to care for, and no crisis that needs to be fixed. We realized that it’s not just that illness or caregiving or loss changes you: it’s that you want to be changed. “My resume is a stranger,” said one in our company: returning to her old job was, by choice, no longer an option. And we shared tips: as we talked about what to say to friends experiencing loss for the first time themselves, one woman suggested asking straight-up, “Do you want sympathy or a solution?” Just as different family members grieve and remember differently, what we’re looking for on any particular day can likewise change. Our job isn’t to offer sage advice or answer questions: 9 times out of 10, it’s simply to ask.