When Patton Oswalt was born in 1969, his parents were unaware of what a fabulous boy they had brought into this world. We can only imagine the entertainment that went on during family meals as he grew up. As an adult, the world grew to love the man behind the smile and quirky facial expressions. As an actor, Oswalt’s ability to slide into characters such as the voice of Remy in the movie ‘Ratatouille’ or the hilarious role of Spence on ‘The King of Queens’ appeared to be flawless.
(Photo courtesy: screenused.com)
His personal life also appeared flawless as he married his love Michelle McNamara in the year 2005. In 2009 the couple were blessed with their beautiful daughter, Alice. Just a short time later, Oswalt would feel the world he built crumbling down around him. In April of 2016, Patton Oswalt lost his wonderfully talented wife as death took her from the family that she adored.
How Hard It Is To Lose A Loved One…
Depression and heartache do not discriminate. Emotions do not care if you are the President of a large country or a single mother working two jobs to keep food on the table. These same emotions do not care what color your skin is, and they do not care how large your bank account may be. Smiles, jokes, and laughter are coping mechanisms that many people display to the world as a way to hide from the pain. They will slide on the comedy persona to not only keep their emotions pushed to the side, but to also to keep others from finding out what these emotions are. This is a sad reality for anyone who has lived under a dark blanket for any length of time, but for those who live under constant appraisal of the public, it appears even darker, and many never find a way to free those emotions, to find just a fragment of light.
When tragedy strikes and that dark blanket starts to feel as though it may suffocate us, we need social support. Simply put: people need people. We need others to cling to, to drag us out of our dark corners, and we need people to put up with our emotional vomit, and we need them to still like us when we are done. In a very well thought out post that Oswalt bravely shared with his fans on Facebook, he makes this point clear when he states:
“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” (Oswalt, 2016 Thanks, grief.
Stages of Grief
In 1969 Elisabeth Kübler-Ross outlined the stages of grief, and this outline has become universally accepted as the normal human approach to loss. We do not all progress through these stages in order, but eventually, if we allow ourselves to go through the grieving process, we do seem to go through them at some point in time. The stages include denial and isolation, anger, bargaining, depression, and eventually acceptance (Axelrod, J. (2016). The 5 Stages of Loss & Grief. Psych Central.
Through his very open and courageous Facebook post, we see that Oswalt is progressing through the stages of grief, and this may be due to his own resilience and/or with the help of his social support. He states that:
“102 days into this. I was face-down and frozen for weeks. It’s 102 days later and I can confidently say I have reached a point where I’m crawling. Which, objectively, is an improvement. Maybe 102 days later…I’ll be walking” (Oswalt, 2016).