I Lost My Family, But I Didn't Lose My Faith

Mary Jo, Matt and Taylor Rose Trokey

My name is Polly Fick.  I live in St. Louis and have been a CSJ associate for over 12 years, involved with the John Marie Riley Associate Community.

On Feb. 2 of this year, I learned first-hand what “dear neighbor” meant. Up to this point, the expression was merely words I'd heard frequently in meetings and on the page of a publication.

I, along with others, lost an entire family: my daughter, Mary Jo; her husband, Matt Trokey; and my only grandchild, Taylor Rose. Mary Jo was my only child, as I had difficultly getting pregnant back before much was known about endometriosis.

Hormonal changes and the pressures of motherhood, breast-feeding, sleeplessness, and going back to work at home had a profound and debilitating effect on Mary Jo. Suffering from postpartum psychosis, she ended her life as well as that of her husband and baby.

Mary Jo gave birth to her only child on October 27, 2017. She was a licensed clinical social worker who worked out of her home for United Health Care. She was educated by the Sisters of Loretto and worked at the United Nations for social justice. In her short life span, she was the "perfect" mother, wife and daughter. Colleagues of hers referred to her as a “team player,” always willing to help others. We received over 400 letters, cards, etc. after the funeral.

Grieving is a process and no one grieves exactly the same. Some days are better than others; many are a tremendous struggle. I cry out to God every day and receive few answers. Yet, by the grace of God, I have not given up. The psalmist said, “Where can I go from thy spirit, and where can I flee from thy presence.” I live in a dark place, believing that God will break through the clouds.

Not willing to let this be the end of their story, my husband, Frank, and I have worked hard to learn about the often hidden and dangerous disease of postpartum depression. Just as, “the lace is not yet finished,” so our journey is not over.

In the past months, we have tried to have a positive effect on other young women who may also be struggling. We have attended and participated in seminars, we have sought prayer and counseling. We have been interviewed by newspaper, television and radio reporters. We have participated in mental health fundraisers. We have contacted organizations such as Postpartum Support, Support International, and Respect for Life. We hope and pray for awareness of this silent “woman’s issue.”

Affectionately, when folks ask us how we’re doing, I quickly retort, "The Sisters of St. Joseph and my fellow associates literally have prayed us through this."

You drew me out of my mother's womb,

You entrusted me to my mother’s breast,

Placed me on your lap from my birth

From my mother’s womb you have been my God!

—Ps. 22:9-10