Friday marked one year since Patton Oswalt lost his wife, writer Michelle McNamara, who passed away in her sleep on Apr. 21, 2016, and the comedian offers an update on his ongoing journey through grief in a lengthy Facebook post.
“It’s awful, but it’s not fatal,” Oswalt writes. “That’s the dispatch I’m sending back from exactly one year into this shadow-slog.”
He also writes of removing his wedding ring for the first time since his wife’s passing. “I couldn’t bear removing it since April 21st, 2016,” he says. “But now it felt obscene. That anonymous poem about the man mourning his dead lover for a year and a day, for craving a kiss from her ‘clay cold lips.’ I was inviting more darkness. Removing the ring was removing the last symbol of denial of who I was now, and what my life is, and what my responsibilities are.”
As Oswalt explains, he and the couple’s daughter, Alice, continue to honour McNamara’s memory in small but constant ways.
“I’m not making today any sort of dark ritual or painful memorial. No graveside visit. Those are for when Alice and I have something exciting to say to her,” he adds. “No candle lighting or balloon launching. We think of her every day — she’s still so tied into our worlds, in a way that’s encouraging, and energizing. So why light a flame that will die, or release a balloon that will disappear? Michelle’s gone but she wasn’t the kind of soul that disappears or dies out.”
Among the numerous commenters to the post was Facebook CEO Sheryl Sandberg, who similarly lost her husband two years ago. “I am deeply moved — by your courage, your strength for your daughter, and your openness which will help so many people who are suffering in silence,” writes Sandberg. “This is a beautiful reflection on grief and resilience. It’s true: when life sucks you under, you can break the surface and learn to breathe again. I sincerely believe your message today will help many people do that.”
You can read Oswalt’s post in its entirety below: