Patton Oswalt Writes Heart-Crushing Essay On Grief 102 Days After His Wife's Death

"102 days at the mercy of grief and loss feels like 102 years..."

Comedian, actor, and writer Patton Oswalt took to Facebook late last night to post an essay reflecting on grief and loss just 102 days after the sudden death of his wife Michelle McNamara on April 21, 2016, which left Oswalt to care for their 7-year-old daughter, Alice.

McNamara had just turned 46 the week before her passing.

In a memorial that appeared in Time shortly after her death, Oswalt wrote of McNamara, "She hasn't left a void. She's left a blast crater."

Oswalt's Facebook essay reveals some of the impact created by the loss of his wife.


Michelle McNamara

"If you spend 102 days completely focused on ONE thing you can achieve miracles," Oswalt writes. "Make a film, write a novel, get MMA ripped, kick heroin, learn a language, travel around the world. Fall in love with someone. Get 'em to love you back.

But 102 days at the mercy of grief and loss feels like 102 years and you have shit to show for it. You will not be physically healthier. You will not feel 'wiser.' You will not have 'closure.' You will not have 'perspective' or 'resilience' or 'a new sense of self.' You WILL have solid knowledge of fear, exhaustion and a new appreciation for the randomness and horror of the universe. And you'll also realize that 102 days is nothing but a warm-up for things to come."

Oswalt's agony is palpable throughout his writing. But even in the impenetrable darkness, he grasps the glimpses of grace that grief commands and draws what strength he can from it. 

"You will have been shown new levels of humanity and grace and intelligence by your family and friends. They will show up for you, physically and emotionally, in ways which make you take careful note, and say to yourself, 'Make sure to try to do that for someone else someday.' Complete strangers will send you genuinely touching messages on Facebook and Twitter, or will somehow figure out your address to send you letters which you'll keep and re-read 'cause you can't believe how helpful they are. And, if you're a parent? You'll wish you were your kid's age, because the way they embrace despair and joy are at a purer level that you're going to have to reconnect with, to reach backwards through years of calcified cynicism and ironic detachment."

Read the essay in its entirety below:

We wish Patton Oswalt and his family well.


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