Patton Oswalt: My Daughter Saved Me from Being a 'Shut-In Alcoholic' After My Wife's Death
Patton Oswalt opens up about dealing with the "awful" grief of his wife's sudden death and reveals why he and daughter Alice didn't move from their family home afterwards
“If I hadn’t had a daughter and my wife died, we wouldn’t be talking right now. I’m not saying I would be dead, but I would be a shut-in alcoholic,” Oswalt revealed in a new interview with Playboy.
“Everything would have shut down,” he continued. “I wouldn’t have been about anything. But with Alice, it was and is ‘You got to get up.’ ”
Alice was just 7 years old when McNamara, a crime writer, died at age 46. This year, Oswalt revealed that McNamara had a previously undiagnosed condition that caused blockages in her arteries. The blockages, combined with her taking the medications Adderall, Xanax and the pain medication fentanyl, caused McNamara’s death, Oswalt said.
“Depression is not terrifying. Depression is seductive and comforting,” said Oswalt. “It sticks around so long because it creates this false sense of ‘Oh, here’s where I’m safe.’ Grief is like depression’s drill sergeant. It knows the tricks that depression doesn’t know.”
Of grief, the 48-year-old, said it was “awful,” explaining, “I don’t want anyone to go through what I’m going through right now. I wouldn’t even want Donald Trump to go through what I’m feeling right now.”
On top of juggling his own pain, Oswalt was focused on ensuring Alice was okay. He revealed that she attends a children’s grief group and is a “really happy little kid,” but admitted, “There were times when I got really worried, like what if she’s just putting on a show for me, trying to be brave but inside she’s dying?”
“There were times when I had to get her to play a game on her iPad or start a little project, and then I would say, ‘Oh, let me go upstairs,’ and I would go put my head in a pillow and just scream and cry because I didn’t want to break down in front of her,” he revealed.
Still, the father-daughter duo opted to stay in their family home, admitting that a move “would have been more painful,” and felt like they were “running away from Michelle’s ghost.”
Oswalt is also newly engaged, to actress Meredith Salenger. The King of Queens alum revealed that he and Salenger met in February through mutual friends – but only on Facebook. During three months of messaging solely online, Oswalt said “we had conversations about books and philosophies and what love means and what loyalty and death are.”
Salenger and Oswalt’s first in-person meeting was on May 20 – and their connection was undeniable: “It was as if I had known this person since we were teenagers and we both had unrequited crushes since we were 14 and now it was finally crashing together.”
RELATED VIDEO: Patton Oswalt and Meredith Salenger Are Engaged!
After getting engaged in July, Oswalt said he broke the news to McNamara’s siblings, whom he revealed were happy for him – as well as the rest of his family members. “My brother was really happy, like, ‘Oh my God. She’s smart. She’s sane. It’s wonderful,’ ” he shared.
Of the new romance, Oswalt said that Salenger brings him “excitement and calm.”
“I’m excited, but because she gives me something that is so secure and calming, I don’t have to question and worry about it,” he said. “There are no mind games. I’m calm enough to let the excitement really grow, you know?”