Due to overwhelming need from the community, Baptist Memorial Health Care is opening its second grief center in the Memphis market, as renovation work finishes up in Midtown at 28 S. Evergreen on the grounds of Idlewild Presbyterian Church.
The Kemmons Wilson Family Center for Good Grief, dubbed Milla’s House, will welcome its first patients on July 26.
All services at the center will be free of charge and will be provided by Masters-prepared therapists.
“Grief touches everyone. It’s the most universal experience there is. It impacts people physically, emotionally, cognitively, behaviorally, and spiritually, and it changes people and changes the way they react to the world around them,” said Angela Hamblen Kelly, Baptist Memorial Health Care’s executive director of bereavement.
“But we have seen in our 20 years of doing grief work that given support and trained people, people really can reconcile that grief into their life and live a happy, healthy, productive life.”
The new center is named in memory of six-year-old Milla Gieselmann, who lost her battle with the rare Batten’s disease. Milla’s family partnered with Baptist to help open Milla’s House because they relied so heavily on Baptist’s Grief Center in Collierville to make it through Milla’s grueling illness and death.
“Milla’s parents and the community around the Gieselmann’s came together and started a bike ride this year that will be an annual event called Miles for Milla, and they have made a commitment to continue that event to continue to raise money to support Milla’s House,” said Hamblen Kelly. “We are also developing a giving circle called Milla’s Circle for people in the community to be able to give and help support her lasting legacy.”
Baptist will share space with Idlewild, which has formed a new nonprofit called the Children and Family Enrichment Center, inside the two-story home directly behind the church. The house is owned by Idlewild, and Nickson General Construction is handling the renovation work.
The hospital system opened its original grief center in 2005 inside a Baptist office complex within the I-240 loop alongside its home care and hospice services. It then expanded to constructing a standalone grief center on the Baptist-Collierville campus in 2010 so that outdoor space could be utilized for some therapies as well as its Camp Good Grief for children.
“We found that we were quickly needing to hire additional staff because people were calling from all parts of Shelby County, as well as Jackson, Tenn., Mississippi, and Arkansas,” said Hamblen Kelly. “We just knew we needed to expand our services, and the Midtown area made sense for us because it easily accessible for many families."
Baptist plans to open a third Grief Center in October in Jonesboro, and it will be affiliated with Baptist’s hospital there, NEA Baptist.