Grief counsellor, funeral home director bring comedy about dying to Edmonton

A grief counsellor and a funeral home director host a movie premiere for a comedic film about terminal illness.

'We just want to start taking away the fear and stigma about talking about death'

The film Getting Grace is getting its Edmonton premiere at Metro Cinema on Aug. 11. (Supplied/Getting Grace)

A grief counsellor and a funeral home director host a movie premiere for a comedic film about terminal illness.

The scenario may sound like a movie plot itself — but a pair of Edmonton women who work with families dealing with death are gearing up to host several screenings of the acclaimed film, Getting Grace, next week.

"We just want to start taking away the fear and stigma about talking about death," said Kirstie Smolyk, vice president of Park Memorial Funeral Home, said on CBC's Edmonton AM Friday.

"Those (are) conversations that only happen behind closed doors in a funeral home right now.

"If we can take away that fear and have people start talking about it, what they want to happen when they're dying, how they want to be celebrated when they're gone. And have the conversation about living life when you're alive."

Getting Grace centres on a young girl who is dying of cancer. She visits a local funeral home to find out more about what will happen after her own death.

Getting Grace is set around a funeral home where a young, dying girl has come to learn more what will happen after her death. (Supplied/Getting Grace)

Smolyk and Cheryl Salter-Roberts, a grief educator with Pilgrim's Hospice, decided to bring the film to Edmonton. It was initially slated to be shown only in independent movie houses in the U.S.

After several calls to the film crew, the film's lead actor and co-director called Park Memorial Funeral Home, and agreed to come to Edmonton for the film showings.

Both women fell in love with the movie as soon as they saw it.

"It's funny. Grace in the movie has this wacky sense of humour," Smolyk said.

"The funeral director in the movie, he's very awkward and reserved. (Grace) teaches him how to live. She does it more fully than anyone else around her, and she's the one who's dying."

The movie will be screened on Aug. 11, 12, and 13 at Metro Cinema.

"I hope (people) will be able to see that death is scary and grief is hard," Salter-Roberts said. "But there are ways to embrace it and hold it and have space for it."