Patton Oswalt: Grief Over My Wife's Death 'Is an Ambush'

Comedian offers heartbreaking glimpse into life after wife's sudden death: 'NYT'
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 27, 2016 7:47 AM CDT
Updated Oct 30, 2016 8:37 AM CDT
Patton Oswalt: Grief Over My Wife's Death 'Is an Ambush'
Patton Oswalt poses in the press room with the award for outstanding writing for a variety series for "Patton Oswalt: Talking for Clapping" at the Emmys on Sept. 18, 2016, at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles.   (Photo by Phil McCarten/Invision for the Television Academy/AP Images)

Patton Oswalt says the April day his wife, Michelle McNamara, died was the second worst day of his life. The worst? "When I told my daughter the next day." Now, six months after McNamara's death, the comedian offers a devastatingly honest glimpse to the New York Times into how he and their 7-year-old daughter, Alice, have been faring since. And first, much like the true-crime investigations McNamara documented, Oswalt "exhaustively details" what happened on the heartbreaking day McNamara died. He had spent the morning of April 21 doing work and routine errands while he let McNamara "sleep until you wake up" due to her recent tiring work schedule and increasing anxiety. And then, shortly after noon, Oswalt found her not breathing in bed. "I was literally blinking trying to get out of this," he recalls of the scene as paramedics arrived and declared her dead.

He suspects McNamara may have died of a Xanax overdose (he's still waiting for official word from the coroner). Oswalt discusses dealing with his overwhelming loss—"I found out the hard way these past few months that alcohol really doesn't help"—and how depression, which he's suffered from, is different from grief: "[Depression's] tool is: 'Wouldn't it be way more comfortable to stay inside and not deal with people?' Grief is … an ambush [that] says: 'The minute you try something, I'm waiting for you.'" A source of comfort for Oswalt has been his comedy. "I'll never be at 100% again, but that won't stop me from living this," he says of his decision to return to the stage. One of the interview's most poignant mentions: the day after McNamara's death, Oswalt's daughter brought up Inside Out, the Pixar kids movie about emotions, and said, "I guess Sadness is doing her job right now." The Times' conversation with Oswalt is here. (More Patton Oswalt stories.)

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