On March 24, 2021, Paige Hilken gave birth to her fifth child with pastor and husband Christopher Hilken. The Hilkens named the little girl Finley Mae, honoring Paige’s maiden name. Just four months later, in a tragic and heartbreaking turn of events, Paige took her own life. She had struggled with post-traumatic stress disorder and mental health issues. She was just 28.
Since the beginning of the year, Paige had experienced health issues. The expectant mother had contracted COVID-19 while 7 months pregnant and experienced mild symptoms. Less than a week after Finley was born, Paige was diagnosed with a pulmonary embolism. On her Instagram page, which has over 18,000 followers, Paige described her diagnosis. She began the post, saying, “Postpartum reality…” then explained, “I’ve been processing so much mentally the last few days and clinging tightly to God. We have been so incredibly grateful for our community of prayer warriors who have been praying and continue to pray for the road ahead.”
As his wife’s struggles with mental health worsened, Christopher made the difficult decision to admit her to a mental health facility for intensive treatment. Just days later, Christopher received a phone call that his wife had taken her own life.
During a message to North Coast Church’s congregation the day after Paige’s death, teaching pastor and elder Larry Osborne said pastor Hilken had previously taken a break from his duties at the church to attend to his wife’s needs. Osborne said that although the facility Paige was receiving help at was one of the best in the nation, “Sadly, it wasn’t enough.”
“It’s a broken world, but the beauty is that Paige is in the presence of the Lord right now…no longer tormented by the demons of those thoughts,” Osbourne said. “The whole sense of fear and compulsiveness had just kind of taken her over, and we were praying for her and we were counseling her. We were doing everything we can.”
Paige Hilken’s Memorial Service
North Coast Church’s senior pastor Chris Brown spoke at Hilken’s memorial service on August 7, 2021. In the emotional address, Brown told those in attendance and watching online: “I promise you, there is not a right sentence, there is not a right prayer, there is no verse in the Old Testament or in the New Testament that’s going to help on a day like today. We are going to go through a really bad morning together…That’s the honesty of days like today.”
“Billy Graham once said ‘One day you’re going to hear that Billy Graham is dead, but don’t believe a word of it because it’s not true,’ ” Pastor Hilken said as he stood before the audience at his wife’s memorial service. “Because I’ll be alive more-so on that day than I’ve ever been before,” Hilken recalled Graham saying. “I feel that with Paige. You’re here because of a rumor that Paige is dead. It’s false. My wife has never been more alive than she is right now. The memorial’s not for her. It’s for those of us who’s been left behind who are jealous of her glory.”