Friday, October 8, 2010

HEAVEN by Jessica Page


Mommy, what's wrong with me?
My head hurts so bad.
You take me to the doctor's and tell me that I'm sick.
Why do you and Daddy look so sad?

I don't want any more radiation, Mommy.
Please get me out of this place.
I want to talk to you but my mouth won't move.
All I can do is watch your crying face.

Mommy, I can laugh and smile again!
Guess who I can see?
Jesus is calling me towards Heaven;
You always said it is such a great place to be.

Mommy, I'm getting closer now.
I'm walking through big golden gates.
Stop crying for me Mommy cause I will see you again.
And I will be happy up here as I wait.

by Jessica Page



After a failed attempt of trying to administer radiation to Jackie at the Auburn Radiation Oncology Center, our neurosurgeon pediatrician advised surgery for Jackie to insert a shunt in her chest. The plan was to use the shunt to go directly into her bloodstream with the anesthesia in order to put her to sleep. Once asleep they would administer the radiation and then wake her up. My dad was a doctor for 40 years and one thing he taught me was that there is always a risk whenever someone is put to sleep for surgery. We did not like the idea of doing this procedure five times a week for a number of weeks. But we were told that it was the only shot we had at extending Jackie's life, even if it was just for a season.

Carrie and I prayed hard about this decision. We decided to take the next step in the medical model process which was to insert the shunt into Jackie's chest. We trusted God would show us what to do after the surgery. The surgery would be risky because we didn't know how much the tumor had affected her lungs and other major organs. At the encouragement of our doctor, we decided to proceed with the minor surgery. Jackie would need to fast for a 24-hour period prior to the surgery. This was extremely difficult for her especially since she was on steroids at the time to shrink her tumor. Steroids cause a person to eat more than normal and now she couldn't eat at all. We could see and feel her pain, hunger pangs which led to tears. She couldn't understand why we wouldn't give her any food. Finally, it was time. The nurses prepped her and wheeled her off to surgery. We prayed believing that God was going to get her through the surgery successful. An hour later the the doctor came to us and told us that the surgery had been successful. We were thrilled!

We met her in the recovery room. Carrie and I were talking to her and she was laughing when all of sudden she she stopped breathing, her eyes rolled to the back of her head and she began to turn blue. The monitor started to ring as the nurses and doctors rushed to her side. It was an emergency, a code blue. We were instructed to leave the room. Carrie ran out of the recovery room into the hallway. I told the doctors I wasn't leaving my baby and I stayed right by her side but giving the doctors and nurses room to work on her. Jackie had stopped breathing. It took the doctors about 30 seconds to get her breathing again. When she came to she looked scared and disoriented and started to cry. I hugged her and told her it was going to be okay. After awhile she stopped crying and I ran out to the hallway to get Carrie. She was curled up in a fetal position crying her eyes out. She thought Jackie had died. She asked, "Is Jackie dead? I didn't think she would go this way." I assured her that Jackie was fine. I said, "She's breathing and and doing well and wants to see you!"
Carrie ran back into the recovery room and smothered Jackie with hugs and kisses.

We almost lost her that day. Neither of us were prepared for the fact that Jackie could go at any time. Our neurosurgeon pediatrician came up to us in the recovery room after he heard what happened. He told us that Jackie's body was already beginning to feel the affect of the tumor and that her lungs were already compromised.

Quality of Life vs. Quantity of Life

At that point we had to decide what was more important - quality of life or quantity of life? If we decided to put her to sleep each day, administer radiation and then wake her up, there was a good chance she would die in the process. Carrie and I talked and prayed about it. We were told that 90% of kids with terminal cancer end up dying in a hospital hooked up to tubes. We didn't want Jackie to die that way and we knew Jackie didn't want to die that way. We knew then that Jackie probably didn't have much time left. We wanted her to enjoy whatever time she had left.


At that point the neurosurgeon suggested that we consider hospice care for Jackie. We decided we would take her home the next day. She had to spend one more night in the hospital so they could monitor her to make sure she was okay after her code blue incident. Carrie spent the night with her at the hospital and literally slept in her bed with her. We decided to take Jackie home the next day. Joshua and Jessica came with me to the hospital. It was a good day because we were going to spring Jackie from the hospital! On the way home we stopped at a mall and bought Jackie a stuffed animal. We ate dinner at a local restaurant at the mall. While eating Jackie looked deep into my eyes and put her hand around my neck and pulled my face close to hers and basically through her eyes said, "Thank you daddy for freeing me from the hospital!" We took Jackie home that night. She never had to return to the hospital.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010



Pastor Britt Merrick's daughter, 6-year old Daisy Merrick, has cancer. Britt is the pastor of Realtiy Church in Carpinteria, CA

Daisy has gone through her share of suffering from a Stage 3 Wilms Tumor (kidney cancer that is found in children). Please keep Daisy and the Merrick family in your prayers.


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

10 Year Anniversary of Jackie's Death

It's hard to believe that it's been 10 years since Jackie died on March 4, 2000. It was Thursday, a day like any other day ... maybe NOT. I couldn't sleep the night before. I kept thinking of my baby and how much I missed her. Why was 10 years harder than 5 years or 9 years? I don't know. It just seemed so final!

I was on the road leading a NEXT Coaching Network in Minneapolis. I got up Thursday morning and remembered that March 4, 2010, was the exact day 10 years earlier that Jackie had passed away in my arms. It was a peaceful passing but the finality of her being gone was more that I could handle.

I called Carrie who had gone to work but after getting to work broke down in tears. Her friends at work asked, "What are you doing here?" They told her to go home. They knew it was the 10th anniversary of Jackie's death. I called Carrie that morning from Minneapolis and she was walking on the pier in Santa Barbara. I asked how she was doing and she said, "Not good." I asked if she was going to jump off the pier and she said, "No, it's not that bad!" But she was hurting big time and so was I. I wished I could hug her and hold her but we were 1500 miles apart. We both agreed that next year we won't be apart on her death day.

I shared with my Coaching Network of 12 guys the significance of this particular day. They graciously prayed for me and Carrie and our family. Joshua wrote a song that he digitally recorded in Jackie's honor. Jessica ended up staying home from school. Sometimes you get ambushed by your emotions and there was something about the finality of living life 10 years without Jackie that just blindsided us all.

Still grieving but healing,


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

BREAKING the Silence!

Alex White

We had a wake, a viewing of Jackie's body, the night before her funeral. The wake was just for family and close friends. Jackie looked like she was peacefully sleeping in the casket. She looked cherub like in her beautiful white dress and ruby red slippers. Reality sinks in quickly when you see your little angel lying in a casket on a dark Spring night. Our family had been at the wake for a couple of hours and we were getting ready to call it a night when my sister Suzy and her husband Mark, along with their month old baby Alex, walked into the Lassila Funeral Home in Auburn, CA. There was a noticeable silence in the room when the White family entered. Jackie, the life of any party, was lying still in a little white casket. You could hear a pin drop. Then out of the silence came a loud cry from Alex which pierced the stillness and broke the silence. It was music to my ears!!! In the midst of our despair there was hope! One child dies, another one is born. One child's last breath is taken, another one's first breath is given. The circle of life was staring us in the face. Jackie had died. Alex was alive and full of life!  

Alex is now 9 years old and a beautiful little girl. I love her dearly and she touches my heart with her interest in Jackie. Alex recently made a cover for my book I hope to one day publish on Jackie's life and death. She called it "Jacqueline Brooke Page" by Dave Page - A true story!"

Thank you God for Alex and her loud cry that night,


Monday, November 16, 2009

GETTING THROUGH THE HOLIDAYS ... 10 Tips for Those Who Grieve

I remember our first Christmas after. Our nightmare began when our five-year old daughter Jackie, our baby and the life of any party, was diagnosed with a brain stem tumor in January 2000. She passed away in my wife’s arms and mine six weeks later on March 4th. She took our hearts with her when she left. Spring turned into summer, summer into fall, fall into winter, and then came the dreaded holidays!

Holidays are difficult days for the bereaved. Bereavement literally means to be robbed. The holidays are a time of giving but all we could think about was what was taken from us. For many, the most difficult holiday of the year is Christmas. This day more than any other is synonymous with family being together. It is at this time that we became acutely aware of the huge void in our lives. How do we have Christmas without Jackie? To make matters worse, Jackie’s birthday was on December 20th. She was our Christmas baby.

At the time I was the pastor of a dynamic church in Auburn, California. Church services went on, Christmas carols were still sung, and people wished everybody a “Merry Christmas.” But our thoughts were on Jackie, fixed more on her departure than on her arrival six years prior. Christmas was different that year. We hung a stocking for her, talked about her, lit a candle in her memory, and shed many tears. Sometimes showing up for something is the best you can do. We showed up that first Christmas and that was good enough.

But now, nine Christmas trees and nine silent nights later I’ve learned a few things about this journey of grief and getting through the holidays. I’d like to suggest 10 tips that might be helpful to you this holiday season.

  • Develop a Plan

Be intentional and develop a plan in advance. It may be as simple as going to the cemetery to sit and talk with your loved one. Observe the holidays, as you want. Everyone has their own way of dealing with grief so be yourself. There is no right or wrong way to do this. It’s OK not to do what you’ve done in the past – be flexible. That first Thanksgiving or Christmas doesn’t have to become a tradition for all of the following years.

  • Talk About Your Loved One

“We talk about the weather. We talk about work. We talk about everything else … except the elephant in the room. We all know it is there. It has hurt us all. But we do not talk about the elephant in the room. Oh, please, say her name. Oh, please, say “Jackie” again. For if we talk about her death, perhaps we can talk about her life.” (Taken from a poem called, “The Elephant in the Room” by Terry Kettering).

  • Memorialize Your Loved One

Find a way to remember your loved one and memorialize them during the holidays. It might mean lighting a candle, writing a letter to your loved one and placing it under the tree, or creating an ornament with your loved one’s picture on it and hanging it on the tree. Make a memory book of your loved one or go to and develop a tribute of your loved one on the Internet.

  • Give Yourself Permission to Cry

Oftentimes, the bereaved are worried that they may cry during the holidays. Of course you will! It’s completely appropriate under the circumstances. Let it out. Crying cleanses the soul. Jesus wept. It’s part of God’s healing process and a normal human response to loss. Take lots of Kleenex with you!

  • Give Yourself Permission to Laugh

You may feel like it’s not appropriate to laugh or feel good while you’re grieving. Laughter does not disrespect the memory of your loved one and it doesn’t mean you’ve forgotten them. In fact, the Bible says, “Laughter is good medicine for the soul.” (Proverbs 17:22). Laughter is not only healthy; it helps to reinvigorate you for the hard work of grief that lies ahead.

  • Be Careful of “Shoulds”

As my friend Katie Brazelton says, “Don’t let anybody "should" on you!” Never let others take your grief away from you, minimize your loss, or tell you how you should or shouldn’t grieve. Avoid the “Tyranny of the Shoulds” yourself, as in: “I should send out cards, bake cookies, or go shopping.” Do what is most helpful for you and your family.

  • Be Kind to Yourself

You have been wounded and are not at full strength. Take care of yourself physically. Eat healthy foods even if you don’t feel like it and get some exercise. Walk 15 minutes down the street and then walk back. Avoid alcohol and get some rest. Do something you like to do each day.

  • Include Children

Children can feel confused, powerless, angry and anxious during the holidays because of a death in the family. Be honest with them. Explain that it is OK for them to cry and for adults to cry and that although they are feel really sad right now, they won’t always feel this sad. See what part of the holiday tradition is most important to them. Try to involve them in memorial rituals; for example, by asking them to draw or write down their favorite holiday memories of the departed loved one.

  • Ask For Help

Realize you can’t get through this alone. Gravitate to where you are getting support. Allow people to help you. Now is the time to call all those friends and family members who said, “If you need anything – call me.” By allowing them to help, you are giving them a gift.

  • Remember You Are Not Alone

King David said, “Yeah though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” (Psalm 23:4). Jesus said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5). One of the names for Jesus associated with the holidays is “Immanuel” which means “God with us.” Jesus is with you in your grief, especially during the holidays. The Scriptures say, “The LORD is close to the broken hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” (Psalm 34:18).

Happy holidays,


p.s. Remember that the anxiety and dread that you may be experiencing leading up to the holidays is often worse than the actual experience of the holidays without your beloved one.

Special thanks to Galen Goben and Forest Lawn for helping me formulate some of my thoughts on Getting Through the Holidays.

Will I Ever Recover?

I used to believe the lie that many psychologists purport …. that a person can never really recover from the loss of a child. After reading “The Grief Recovery Handbook” by John James and Russell Friedman, I now disagree with that statement and belief. The authors define recovery as “feeling better … claiming your circumstances instead of your circumstances claiming you and your happiness … finding new meaning for living, without fear of being hurt again … being able to enjoy fond memories without having them precipitate painful feelings of regret or remorse … acknowledging that it is perfectly all right to feel sad from time to time and to talk about those feelings no matter how those around you react …being able to forgive others when they say or do things that you know are based on their lack of knowledge about grief … one day realizing that your ability to talk about the loss you’ve experienced is indeed normal and healthy.”

Obviously, recovering from a significant emotional loss is not an easy task but certainly is possible. And based on the above definition of recovery, I think I have recovered. Oh, don’t get me wrong … I still miss Jackie immensely, talk about her all the time (which I’ve learned is very healthy) and hold onto the hope that I will see her again in heaven. But, I don’t feel guilty anymore for feeling good! I know now that feeling good is not disrespectful to her memory. It’s kind of like being injured physically but worse because you’ve been injured emotionally. The good news is you do heal. You may have a scar (which I do) but you heal up and you can recover! God is in the healing business. The Scriptures say, “The LORD is close to the broken hearted and he saves those who are crushed in spirit.” (Psalm 34:18). “The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22-23).

Where there is life, there is hope! What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger! With God all things are possible!

It feels good to feel good again.


p.s. The photo of the arm with the tattoo is Hebrew and says, "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger!"

Friday, September 4, 2009

"Will My Life Ever Be Good Again?"

I want to write a book called, “Life Can Be Good Again!” – Finding Meaning & Purpose in Your Loss.

After writing his best seller, A Grace Disguised, Jerry Sittser found that one question kept surfacing in the hundreds of letters and emails he received in response to his book – “Will my life ever be good again?”

People want to know if life has any joy in store for them in the future after suffering a catastrophic loss. I wandered the exact same thing immediately after losing Jackie because the loss was so devastating and overwhelming. I honestly didn’t know what to do or how to process it. I didn’t know how to grieve. I needed someone to help me frame my loss.

Out of desperation, I called Jerry Sittser at Whitworth College, and asked if he would come speak at the church I pastored in Auburn. It was totally for selfish reasons – to help me recover from my grief. Jerry came and helped me frame the loss. He became a model to me of someone who had suffered great loss (he lost his wife, mom, and daughter when a drunk driver hit their minivan) and yet had joy in his life. Jerry loved God, his family (what remained), other people and life. He had a smile on his face and a bounce in his step. I wanted to be like Jerry. I figured if he could do it, then so could I. I thought that if God could transform Jerry then maybe he could transform me too. I think we all need models, people to look up to, which have gone where we want to go.

I have found that life can be good again, really good! Life will never be the same again. Things are different now - but good! I have a new joy, which I believe is even greater than before. By experiencing such deep sorrow I can now experience an even deeper joy. I have a smile back on my face and a bounce in my step. I have a new found passion to help others who grieve experience joy in their lives as well.

Because of His mercy and grace,

His grace is sufficient, and his mercies are new every morning .... Great is thy faithfulness!


p.s. I recently saw Jerry Sittser speak in chapel at Westmont College in Santa Barbara. I thanked him personally for the difference he made in my life and for being my role model for living a healthy life after loss.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Ocean Waves and Grief

I grew up in Southern California and one of my favorite activities was (and still is) going to the beach. When I was a kid my parents owned an apartment in Laguna Beach that we would frequent a lot. It was there that I learned about the ocean, waves, body surfing and boogie boarding. I learned to respect the ocean and it's power (water is the most powerful force on earth) and to never turn my back on it.

I remember one time when my mom and I were walking on some rocks looking at starfish and turned our backs on the ocean and a big wave came and knocked us over and dragged us across the rocks. We emerged bloody and bruised but learned an important lesson.

Turning your back on the ocean is like turning your back on grief and ignoring it.

I remember another time when a set of waves came out of nowhere and I got trapped in the set. I was thrust under water for what seemed like eternity but in reality was only a few seconds. I felt helpless, disoriented, and frightened. When I did surface I found another huge wave bearing down on me and under I went.

Losing a loved one and going through the grief process is like being caught in a set of big waves. Waves of anger, doubt, denial, sadness, depression, loneliness, helplessness, and confusion that keep crashing down on you. Despite what some experts say, the grief process is not a neat and tidy set of stages you successfully go through and move on from. Rather they are like emotional waves that come in all different sizes and shapes that knock the snot out of you. When they break, you are broadsided, and find yourself tossing, spinning, and bouncing off the bottom of the ocean with a mouth full of salt water and sand.

If you fight, it takes longer to get to the surface. But if you float with the current, you come right to the top. Floating when we are frightened is difficult. It takes trust, focus, and concentration. Dealing with the death of a loved one is similar. In order to cope, it takes TRUST. Trust leads to hope. Trust that God is in control even though it doesn't seem like it. Hope for a better tomorrow and that life can be good again.

We all need hope to cope.

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will direct your path." Proverbs 3:5-6


p.s. I know some people (and I'm sure you do to) who got caught in a set of ocean waves and it frightened them and now they don't venture into the ocean anymore. I don't know about you but I'm ready to venture back out into the deep end and live life to the fullest! I think Jackie would want it that way ... :-)

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

"Held" by Natalie Grant

What It Means To Be “Held”

Natalie Grant sings a moving song about grief, loss, suffering and hope called, “Held.” However, the writer of the song is Christa Wells. Her inspiration for the song came from 3 different women that greatly influenced her life. Each of the women experienced the loss of a family member.

1) Patti, a young widow with 3 kids, lost her husband

2) Vaneetha, experienced polo growing up, lost her infant son Paul from a heart defect. The first verse of "Held" refers to Vaneetha and her son, Paul. She shared with Christa about how knowing sorrow allowed her to also know joy and about the strange reality of feeling God's presence most keenly in the moments of deepest grief.

3) Sherry, Christa’s mother-in-law, lost her daughter Erica at birth. She spoke through tears about the pain of carrying a child to term and then having to let her go without even getting to take her home from the hospital. She told Christa about the still, small voice that spoke to her in the delivery room, “You have to choose how you will carry this loss after this moment. You can choose bitterness or you can choose to let me wrap you up in peace that can't be explained and that will lead to hope. You can choose to trust that you are not alone, and that everything you suffer here will someday be redeemed."

Because of the influence of these women, Christa realized that no person of faith since the beginning of time has ever lived without suffering. In fact, those who are students of Jesus have been promised that we certainly should expect pain and suffering in this life.


In the middle of that heartache, at every lonely, dark, lost moment ...the Truth. That in those moments, especially then, we are held, held up, held together, by the the One who has walked here and knows the pain, and who also holds all of time, every story, my story, your story, the Greatest Story in his hands.

Christa said, “Every word (of the song) was chosen with loving care, because I didn't write this song for a market, or any audience, but for those three women. I wrote it and recorded it with my old 8-track and made a cassette copy for each of them.”

Link to the Natalie Grant video/song “Held.”

Below are the lyrics to Held:

Two months is too little
They let him go
They had no sudden healing
To think that providence
Would take a child from his mother
While she prays, is appalling
Who told us we'd be rescued
What has changed and
Why should we be saved from nightmares
We're asking why this happens to us
Who have died to live, it's unfair

This is what it means to be held
How it feels, when the sacred is torn from your life
And you survive
This is what it is to be loved and to know
That the promise was when everything fell
We'd be held

This hand is bitterness
We want to taste it and
Let the hatred numb our sorrows
The wise hand opens slowly
To lilies of the valley and tomorrow

This is what it means to be held
How it feels, when the sacred is torn from your life
And you survive
This is what it is to be loved and to know
That the promise was when everything fell
We'd be held
If hope is born of suffering
If this is only the beginning
Can we not wait, for one hour
Watching for our savior
This is what it means to be held
How it feels, when the sacred is torn from your life
And you survive
This is what it is to be loved and to know
That the promise was when everything fell
We'd be held
We'd be held

This is what it is to be loved and to know
That the promise was when everything fell
We'd be held

This is what it means to be held.....