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Comedian Frankly Describes The Grief He’s Undergoing After Losing His Wife Suddenly

Comedian Frankly Describes The Grief He’s Undergoing After Losing His Wife Suddenly

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.

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Spence on King of Queens
                                                                                                                    (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.

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    Patton and Daughter

      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.

      Embrace Despair

      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:

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      “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.

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      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).

      Wife and Patton
                                                                                                                           (Photo courtesy: News.com.au)

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        Last Updated on July 8, 2020

        How to Say No When You Say Yes Too Often

        How to Say No When You Say Yes Too Often

        Do you say yes so often that you realize you aren’t really happy about this, wondering how to say no to people?

        For years, I was a serial people pleaser. Known as someone who would step up, I would gladly make time especially when it came to volunteering for certain causes. I proudly carried this role all through grade school, college, even through law school. For years, I thought saying “no” meant I would disappoint a good friend or someone I respected.

        But somewhere along the way, I noticed I wasn’t quite living my life. Instead, I seem to have created a schedule that was a strange combination of meeting the expectations of others, what I thought I should be doing, and some of what I actually wanted to do. The result? I had a packed schedule that left me overwhelmed and unfulfilled.

        It took a long while but I learned the art of saying no. Saying ‘no’ meant I no longer catered fully to everyone else’s needs and could make more room for what I really wanted to do. Instead of cramming too much in, I chose to pursue what really mattered. I started to manage my time more around my own needs and interests. When that happened, I became a lot happier. And guess what? I hardly disappointed anyone.

        The Importance of Saying No

        When you learn the art of saying ‘no,’ you begin to look at the world differently. Rather than seeing all of the things you could or should be doing (and aren’t doing), you start to look at how to say yes to what’s important.

        In other words, you aren’t just reacting to what life throws at you. You seek the opportunities that move you to where you want to be.

        Successful people aren’t afraid to say no. Oprah Winfrey considered one of the most successful women in the world confessed that it was much later in life when she learned how to say no. Even after she had become internationally famous, she felt she had to say yes to virtually everything. It was only when she realized that after years of struggling with saying no, I finally got to this question: “What do I want?”

        Being able to say no also helps you manage your time better.

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        Warren Buffett views no as essential to his success. He said,

        “The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.”

        When I made ‘no’ a part of my toolbox, I drove more of my own success focusing on fewer things and doing them well.

        How We Are Pressured to Say Yes

        It’s no wonder a lot of us find it hard to say ‘no.’

        From an early age, we are conditioned to say ‘yes.’ We said yes probably hundreds of time in order to graduate from high school and then get into college. We said yes to find work. We said yes get a promotion. We said yes to find love and then yes again to stay in a relationship. We said yes to find and keep friends.

        We say yes because it feels better to help someone. We say yes because it can seem like the right thing to do. We say yes because we think that is key to success. And we say yes because the request might come from someone who is hard to resist like the boss.

        And that’s not all. The pressure to say yes doesn’t just come from others. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves. At work, we say yes because we compare ourselves to others who seem to be doing more than we are. Outside of work, we say yes because we feel guilty we aren’t doing enough to spend time with family or friends.

        The message no matter where we turn is nearly always, “You really could be doing more.” The result? When people ask us for our time, we are heavily conditioned to say yes.

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        How to Say No Without Feeling Guilty

        Deciding to add the word ‘no’ to your toolbox is no small thing. Perhaps you already say ‘no’ but not as much as you would like. Maybe you have an instinct that if you were to learn the art of ‘no’ that you could finally create more time for things you care about. But let’s be honest, using the word ‘no’ doesn’t come easily for many people.

        The 3 Rules of Thumbs for Saying No

        1. You Need to Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

        Let’s face it. It is hard to say no. Setting boundaries around your time especially you haven’t done it much in the past will feel awkward.

        2. You Are the Air Traffic Controller of Your Time

        Remember that you are the only one who understands the demands for your time. Think about it, who else knows about all of the demands on your time? No one. Only you are at the center of all of these requests. are the only one that understands what time you really have.

        3. Saying ‘No’ Means Saying ‘Yes’ to Something That Matters

        When we decide not to do something, it means we can say yes to something else. You have a unique opportunity to decide how you spend your precious time.

        6 Ways to Start Saying No

        Incorporating that little word ‘no’ into your life can be transformational. Turning some things down will mean you can open doors to what really matters. Here are some essential tips to learn the art of no:

        1. Check in With Your Obligation Meter

        One of the biggest challenges to saying ‘no’ is a feeling of obligation. Do you feel you have a responsibility to say yes and worry that saying no reflect poorly on you?

        Ask yourself whether you truly have the duty to say yes. Check your assumptions or beliefs about whether you carry the responsibility to say yes. Turn it around and instead ask what duty you owe to yourself.

        2. Resist the Fear of Missing out (FOMO)

        Do you have a fear of missing out (FOMO)? FOMO can follow us around in so many ways. At work, we volunteer our time because we fear we won’t move ahead. In our personal lives, we agree to join the crowd because FOMO even while we ourselves aren’t enjoying the fun.

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        Check in with yourself. Are you saying yes because of FOMO or because you really want to say yes? More often than not, running after fear doesn’t make us feel better.

        3. Check Your Assumptions About What It Means to Say ‘No’

        Do you dread the reaction you will get if you say no? Often, we say ‘yes’ because we worry about how others will respond or the consequences of saying no or because of the consequences. We may be afraid to disappoint others or think we will lose respect from others. We often forget how much we are disappointing ourselves along the way.

        Keep in mind that saying ‘no’ can be exactly what is needed to send the right message that you have limited time. In the tips below, you will see how to communicate your no in a gentle and loving way. You might disappoint someone initially but drawing a boundary can bring you the freedom you need so that you can give freely of yourself when you truly want to.

        4. When the Request Comes In, Sit on It

        Sometimes, when we are in the moment, we instinctively agree. The request might make sense at first. Or we typically have said yes to this request in the past.

        Give yourself a little time to reflect on whether you really have the time, or can do the task properly. You may decide the best option is to say ‘no.’ There is no harm in giving yourself the time to decide.

        5. Communicate Your ‘No’ with Transparency and Kindness

        When you are ready to tell someone no, communicate your decision clearly. The message can be open and honest to ensure the recipient that your reasons have to do with your limited time.

        Resist the temptation not to respond or communicate all. But do not feel obligated to provide a lengthy account about why you are saying no.

        A clear communication with a short explanation is all that is needed. I have found it useful to tell people that I have many demands and need to be careful with how I allocate my time. I will sometimes say I really appreciate that they came to me and for them to check in again if the opportunity arises another time.

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        6. Consider How to Use a Modified ‘No’

        If you are under pressure to say yes but want to say no, you may want to consider downgrading a “yes” to a “yes but…” giving you an opportunity to condition your agreement to what works best for you.

        Sometimes, the condition can be to do the task but not in the time frame that was originally requested. Or perhaps you can do part of what has been asked.

        Final Thoughts

        Beginning right now, you can change how you respond to requests for your time. When the request comes in, take yourself off autopilot where you might normally say yes.

        Use the request as a fresh request to draw a healthy boundary around your time. Pay particular attention to when you place certain demands on yourself. If you are the one placing the demand on yourself, try to evaluate the demand as if it were coming from somewhere else.

        Try it now. Say no to a friend who continues to take advantage of your goodwill. Or, draw the line with a workaholic colleague and tell them you will complete the project but not by working all weekend. Or, tell someone in your family you can’t loan them money again because they never paid you back the last time. You’ll find yourself much happier.

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        Featured photo credit: Chris Ainsworth via unsplash.com

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