Single Through Sorrow: Franka Baly’s Story

By Allison O'Connor

SMW: Sometimes help and inspiration come from unlikely places. Did you receive any assistance that surprised you or were you unexpectedly motivated by a particular person or event?

FB: I remember I was just sitting at home one day and I got a call from my pastor’s wife, Dee Shook, who had lost her father suddenly like I lost my husband. They were about the same age at the time too. There were so many similarities that my husband’s death brought up some old pain for her. She proceeded to share her story with me about her dad and how she lost him in a tragic car accident. Like her dad, I was unable to have an open casket funeral and it made saying goodbye hard. We discussed the issue of closure. She relayed the pain and the complex emotions that evolve and how she was able to cope. More importantly, she communicated how she watched her mom go through the process and could identify for me many of same feelings I had been experiencing. I knew her mother to be a wonderful and warm woman who had raised two children successfully on her own as a single mom. This encouraged me so much. I guess it was because she helped me see that I wouldn’t always feel the way I had been feeling, that there would be a break in the sorrow and I would feel whole again. She encouraged me to pray and ask God for guidance. She also told me to seek counseling for grief if I needed it. Right then, I felt some hope since my husband’s accident. I wish to thank Dee for her encouragement and support.

SMW: As a business owner, did you find work therapeutic during the grieving process or was it a struggle dealing with the daily demands of running a business and adapting to a new life?

FB: Initially I couldn’t deal with running my business. I had to take a few months off and get my head together. I didn’t care who needed a website or a logo, it seemed so unimportant. Instead, I took the boys to visit family and spend some time doing nothing. I literally couldn’t work. It seemed almost sacrilegious to work at that time. It was no way to honor Raphael. I couldn’t understand how everyone expected me to just get on with life like nothing had happened. Didn’t they know what I was going through? I wanted the world to stop and acknowledge my pain. But, the reality is that the world doesn’t stop. At some point I realized that I needed to go back to work, that it would help me heal. I love my work as the owner of a graphics design firm and not focusing my own problems and pain, helped me. It helped to give my time and talents to helping other business owners. I jumped back into work and have seen my business flourish this past year. It helped me carve out a new life of my own and continuously inspires me to strive to be better. Later this year I will be launching a second business, it seems the sky’s the limit for me now.

SMW: How were you able to continue raising your children while coping with your loss?

FB: Having my children to care for saved me after losing my husband. I maintained their daily schedule and spent as much time with them as I could. I let them talk about their dad and we even cried together. I didn’t hide anything from them. They were only 4 years old at the time but they were aware of what happened, even if they didn’t initially understand the finality of it all. Sometimes even in the midst of my sorrow I would have moments of joy with my boys when I could laugh and be happy. This let me know, early on, that I would one day be OK again. It is what I know my husband would have wanted for me and the boys.