Single Through Sorrow: Franka Baly’s Story
By Allison O'Connor
Welcome to a new SingleMindedWomen.com series, Single Through Sorrow, which will be featured once a month on the Single Moms channel. Each article in the series will profile a woman who has suffered the loss of her spouse or significant other and has been left to raise their children on her own.
You will find the women in these profiles amazingly resilient, courageous, and honest. The women who have shared their very personal stories of loss have done so with the hope they can inspire and support other newly single moms who have been left to pick up the pieces following the death of a loved one.
Our series begins with Franka Baly’s story. Franka and her husband were married for 16 years and the parents of 4-year-old twins before his untimely death.
SMW: You lost your husband suddenly as a result of a car crash. Did you have the support of family and friends to help you cope with your grief?
FB: When someone dies immediately family and friends descend upon you to offer their condolences and support. Your home is filled with family and food and you don’t have a moment to even think. They are with you until the funeral and then everyone leaves and returns to their own lives. Right after they leave is when the real grief sets in. You feel suddenly alone and it consumes you. I was fortunate to have a great circle of girlfriends who were here for me and a wonderful church family. They let me cry and watched my boys so I could just curl up and cry when I needed to. I clung to them. They helped me cope and continued to be my support long after I was forgotten.
SMW: Who or what helped you the most as you were dealing with your grief and facing life-altering changes?
FB: My church family and my closest friends helped me the most during the grieving process. My family live far away and they couldn’t be as close as they would like. Some days I questioned God and why this had happened to us. I didn’t understand on a spiritual level how someone could be here and making plans for the future and the next day they are gone or why God would allow something so terrible to happen. In my struggle, as a Christian woman, I sought the counsel and support from my pastor and his wife, two very wise and wonderful people. They helped me to understand that it was OK to have these feelings and that God understood my grief. At my core I am a Christian and I believe in that one day we will be reunited with all of our loved ones who have gone on before. My husband died living a life pleasing to God and I believe his spirit is with God now. Even with this belief, it was a process. I walked through all of the stages of grief more than once.
Then my girlfriends, Dee and Yolanda wouldn’t let me lie about my feelings. They helped me to be honest with my feelings. Initially I tried to act like I had it all together, I didn’t want anyone to worry or feel like I wasn’t strong enough to care for my boys or myself. I said all the right things, what I thought people wanted to hear. Then after a while it all became too much and I had to let it all out. I remember them allowing me to cry and just be there for me. My breakthrough happened on the anniversary of my husband’s death, a whole year later. I practically shut down. I couldn’t work, I was crying all the time, and I wasn’t sleeping. I was also having heart palpitations, and even had an angiogram because of an abnormal stress test. I learned quickly that grief can alter you physically so it is important to take care of yourself during this time. Since that time I have chosen to live authentically.