Marc Maron Thinks About Sudden Death of Girlfriend Lynn Shelton 'Every Day': Grief 'Comes and Goes'

The star of The Bad Guys tells PEOPLE he found himself "in a state of shock" after director Lynn Shelton died in May 2020 from an undiagnosed blood disorder

Fans can always count on Marc Maron to make them laugh. But on the May 18, 2020 episode of his WTF with Marc Maron podcast, the host brought a somber tone to his biweekly show.

An emotional Maron, 58, shared the news that his girlfriend, director Lynn Shelton, died suddenly two days earlier from undiagnosed acute myeloid leukemia. Maron opened up about Shelton's final days, sharing that she had a high fever and swollen glands in her throat. She made an appointment to see a doctor, but Maron woke up to her collapsed before she made it to the doctor. She was 54 when she died.

"There's no way to explain what happened there," Maron, who voices Snake in the new animated film The Bad Guys, tells PEOPLE in this week's issue. "You're in a state of shock."

Marc Maron Rollout
Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP/Shutterstock

Though the comedian and Shelton maintained a friendship for years — working together on his TV series Maron, GLOW and some of his Netflix comedy specials — their relationship didn't turn romantic until 2019. "I was grieving somebody that I was in love with, but also the loss of possibilities of a life that didn't happen for us," Maron says.

Maron honored Shelton on his WTF podcast the way he does with all previous guests who die: by replaying their prior conversation. His heartfelt introduction to the 2015 podcast episode recaps how happy Shelton made him, and how they cooked meals and played cards together.

For more Marc Maron, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands now, or subscribe here.

"My producer was like, 'Look, man, we can take time off,' And I'm like, 'It might be important for me to be honest with my feelings right now,'" Maron recalls. "I set it up in the place that I was in. And it was gnarly and horrible and hard."

Marc Maron Rollout
Alex J. Berliner/ABImages

The actor leaned on his brother and friend, novelist Sam Lipsyte, in the time following Shelton's death. Maron and Lipsyte talked nightly — and still do. "Nothing's going to make it really easier, but if you have people to talk about other things with and just be present for your sadness, that's helpful," Maron says. "A lot of people showed up for me. It was very beautiful how much love I got around that from the community."

Almost two years later, Maron says the "grief sort of comes and goes." But "I think about it every day really," he admits of Shelton's passing.

RELATED VIDEO: Sharon Stone Shares That Her Nephew River, 11 Months, Has Died After 'Total Organ Failure'

Sharing his grief with his podcast community helped, too. "I don't know, ultimately, if there's a right or wrong to it, but I think being public with it and putting it out there for people was good for me," Maron says. "Judging by a lot of feedback, it resonated with people because those kind of feelings are unmanageable and erratic and not consolable. And everybody's going to deal with it at some point."

The New Jersey native talks about his battle with drugs and alcohol for the same reason. Maron, now 22 years sober, recognizes that "in terms of getting sober or getting off drugs, most people don't think that they can. It's a day-to-day fight."

Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free weekly newsletter to get the biggest news of the week delivered to your inbox every Friday.

So he aims to offer a beacon of light. "If somebody who somebody respects or is in the public eye cops to being a fairly bad addict or alcoholic, yet they're okay now, it provides a hope," Maron says, "whether it's for a day or for the long haul."

Marc Maron Rollout

Today, Maron finds pleasure in the simple things in life. He still enjoys performing stand-comedy at The Comedy Store in Los Angeles, where he got his start.

"I think as we get older and as we get hammered a little by life, you have a little more humility, you're a little more humble."

But "most of the time," he continues, "I'm thinking about what I'm going to eat and whether my cats are okay. And hopefully, something funny will come into my brain. That's my life."

The Bad Guys opens in theaters April 22.

Related Articles