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Baptist opens second grief center location in midtown Memphis

Among a large crowd of family, friends and Baptist leaders, Baptist opened the doors of its second grief center location, the Kemmons Wilson Family Center for Good Grief, Milla’s House, located on the grounds of Idlewild Presbyterian Church on July 26.

The center is named in memory of Milla Gieselmann, the 6-year-old daughter of Memphis couple Frazer and Dana Gieselmann. In November 2016, Milla died from Batten disease, an inherited neurodegenerative disorder for which there is no cure.

“Today marks an important day for those in our community who are grieving and need free, high-quality services,” said Baptist President and CEO Jason Little. “Once our third grief center location opens in Jonesboro, community members will have access to three grief centers within a 75-mile radius.”

Baptist’s original grief center, the Kemmons Wilson Family Center for Good Grief, opened in 2005 and relocated in 2010 to be next to the Baptist Reynolds Hospice House, on the grounds of Baptist Collierville. A third grief center will open in October in Jonesboro, Arkansas, where one of Baptist’s 21 hospitals, NEA Baptist Memorial Hospital, is located.

“We were pioneers in bringing grief services to the Mid-South community with the area’s first grief camp, Camp Good Grief, debuting in 1999,” said Little.

Since the advent of Camp Good Grief, Baptist has added additional camps for teens and adults and provided free grief counseling, seminars and workshops to almost 4,000 individuals in 2016.

Milla’s House will be located in Idlewild’s newly opened Children and Family Enrichment Center, which will include other offerings for families and children.

“Partnering with a like-minded organization allows us to expand our mission of providing grief services in convenient and easily accessible locations, while giving Idlewild the opportunity to widen its breadth of services for children and families in need,” said Baptist’s Executive Director of Bereavement Angela Hamblen Kelly. “We are also very grateful to the Gieselmann family for their unwavering support.”

The Gieselmanns’ 5-year-old daughter, Elle, also tested positive for Batten disease, while 8-year-old Ann Carlyle tested negative and is healthy. The Gieselmanns have relied heavily on the Baptist Grief Center, and Frazer Gieselmann says the center continues to be essential to their family’s journey through a grief that is complicated and messy. He emphasized that the center had not only been essential to his family, but to his extended family and close friends as well.

Dana Gieselmann said, “The Memphis community has benefitted greatly from the Center for Good Grief, and it is our great pleasure to have the opportunity to support the opening of the midtown location, while also honoring our daughter Milla. Her short life of six years touched so many. Our hope is that Milla’s House will provide the help our community needs to deal with the reality of living in a broken world.”

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