Patton Oswalt Recounts The Day His Wife Died In A Moving ‘NY Times’ Profile

Getty Image

Patton Oswalt’s wife, crime novelist Michelle Eileen McNamara, died on April 21, 2016. The cause of death still hasn’t been determined, but the Emmy-winning comedian believes “it might have been an overdose [of Xanax]. That’s what the paramedics there were saying while I was screaming and throwing up.” That was the second hardest day of Oswalt’s life. The hardest?

“When I told my daughter the next day.”

The New York Times spoke to Oswalt about, among other topics, the difference between depression, which he’s discussed with sad-funny specificity in his standup shows, and debilitating grief. “Depression is more seductive. Its tool is: ‘Wouldn’t it be way more comfortable to stay inside and not deal with people?’ Grief is an attack on life. It’s not a seducer. It’s an ambush or worse. It stands right out there and says: ‘The minute you try something, I’m waiting for you.’” Oswalt will debut new material, much of which focuses on his grief, in early November during the New York Comedy Festival. It wasn’t easy returning to the stage after McNamara’s passing — he felt ashamed for telling jokes — but being up there was “a rebuke to grief, an acceptance of the messiness of life. I’ll never be at 100 percent again, but that won’t stop me from living this.” His brother Matt added that working is “home for him. He’s been doing stand-up since he was 18. It’s normalcy.”

Oswalt, who plans to complete his wife’s book about the Golden State Killer, has a nightly ritual with their daughter. They write down three things they remember about McNamara, which “keeps this living portrait of her,” he said.

Once you’re done crying, head over to the NY Times for the rest of the profile.

(Via the New York Times)