• 08.02.16

Read Patton Oswalt’s Stirring Post About His Late Wife, And Writing Comedy Again

102 days after the sudden death of Michelle McNamara, Oswalt has opened up about dealing with grief, and finding the will to create again.

Read Patton Oswalt’s Stirring Post About His Late Wife, And Writing Comedy Again
Michelle Eileen McNamara and Patton Oswalt attend LACMA Art + Film Gala on November 5, 2011

The comedian, actor, and author Patton Oswalt has spent much of his adult life struggling with clinical depression. He’s also managed to channel the debilitating mental albatross into bursts of creativity on the topic. He’s written about it in books, like the recent Silver Screen Fiend, and he’s built routines about it into his standup act. This material not only helps destigmatize depression for his fans who suffer from it, but it also might give them hope that they too can work through their own struggles. But earlier this year, Oswalt was hit with an emotional blow more devastating than anything else he’d ever had to work through.


On April 21, Oswalt’s wife, the true crime writer Michelle McNamara, died in her sleep. Although the cause of death has still not been determined, it was a complete surprise. She was 46 years old. Their daughter is 7.

Patton OswaltPhoto: Flickr user Gage Skidmore

It’s hard to imagine how someone whose job often comes down to making people laugh can ease back into creative work after such an unimaginable tragedy—especially given Oswalt’s history of depression. This is the kind of thing that could make anybody fall to pieces and never assemble them back in the same order. Earlier today, though, Oswalt published a stirring Facebook tribute to McNamara that gave a glimpse of his mental state since her death. Although he publicly remembered his wife once before, in a brief post on Time‘s website in early May, he’s now offering a clearer picture of the future. For one thing, he is working to help complete McNamara’s unfinished book about The Golden State Killer—and he also sees a return to comedy on the horizon. At the same time, he is still very much in mourning.

It’s a beautifully written piece. It’s painful to read at times, but it’s also hopeful for anyone struggling with depression or grief. And on another level, it’s hopeful for anyone who has struggled on a creative project. Have a look at the full post below.

About the author

Joe Berkowitz is a writer and staff editor at Fast Company. His next book, Away with Words, is available June 13th from Harper Perennial.