Abby Barr shares struggle with grief one year after losing husband in explosion

Published: Jul. 3, 2019 at 8:44 PM CDT
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Each day, Abby Barr wakes up with a purpose to take care of her 4-year-old twin girls. A purpose that she says has been a light guiding her through her journey with grief.

"Those first couple of days I have never felt so lonely in my life. It didn't matter how many people were here or doing things for me," Abby Barr said, "I was alone."

On July 10, 2018, the smell of natural gas was reported around Main Street in downtown Sun Prairie. Cory Barr was among the group of firefighters that checked out the levels and quickly learned they needed to evacuate the busy area during a beautiful summer night. It was a night that turned chaotic after an explosion rocked surrounding buildings, including Barr's business. A handful of people were hurt, and Cory lost his life.

"It is almost safe to say that kinda in a way, I also died that day. Ever since, I have been trying to rebuild from that life," Abby said.

Abby says without her daughters, she wouldn't have anything to get out of bed for each day. Her four-year-old twins, Aubrey and Hailey, give her a purpose to keep going. However, there is a pain that lives within Abby knowing that her little girls were robbed of a father.

"It comes in waves. Sometimes we can go a few weeks without them [her daughters] asking, then sometimes it is daily," Abby said.

Abby has strength to keep pushing forward without Cory, but each day, she is shocked with the empathy her daughters have shown. One day, Abby was watching her and Cory's wedding video, and the girls came down stairs to comfort her. Aubrey said, "Mommy, I know it is really hard."

Abby said, "I was like, 'You are three and a half. How do you know this?'"


Abby's life has dramatically changed. She lost her husband, business, and left her full-time job all within one year. But when you see her in public and talk with her, no one would guess it.

She is composed.


But what is happening on the inside, is much more complicated: her grief.

"I strongly believe suffering in silence is not the way to go."

She has support from her family, Cory's family, and the family they shared: The Sun Prairie Fire Department. They have continuously supported her throughout her grieving process, and will forever be apart of her daughters' lives.

"I believe if I talk about, and someone else sees this, then maybe it could make a difference for them," Abby said. "It is okay, to not be okay."

As we approach the one year anniversary, no memorial of Cory will ever seem like it's too much for Abby and his family.

"I feel like it makes me feel closer to him."

The Wednesday memorial service begins at 6 p.m. at Fire Station 1.