Patton Oswalt on His New Role as a Single Parent After His Wife's Death: 'I'm Like Every Bad '80s Sitcom'

Patton Oswalt got candid about these difficult five months of mourning

Patton Oswalt continues to cope with the loss of his wife, while also adjusting to being a single parent.

In an interview with Conan O’Brien, the funnyman got sentimental and candid about life in the wake of wife Michelle McNamara‘s unexpected death. The late crime writer died in her sleep in April.

“It feels weird to say it, ‘I’m a widower,’ ” Oswalt, 47, says. “And if I put it in really basic terms, I’m like every bad ’80s sitcom, where there’s a dad raising a kid by himself … except my ’80s sitcom sucks.”

He continues, “There’s no punchline. There’s a lot of insomnia, there’s a lot of me eating Cheetos for dinner. I’m waiting for my daughter to turn to the camera and go, ‘No wonder I’m in therapy’ but … that moment’s not going to come.”

Want all the latest pregnancy and birth announcements, plus celebrity mom blogs? Click here to get those and more in the PEOPLE Babies newsletter.

This embed is invalid

Oswalt also talks about his 7-year-old daughter Alice Rigney and how she’s been doing.

“She’s handling it way better than I am,” he says. “But having to tell her that her mom had passed away is the worst thing I will [ever do] — I can’t imagine going through anything [worse]. When death comes for me, I’m gonna go, ‘Yeah, whatever — I’ve had the worst.’ ”

Oswalt says Alice was ready to get back into her normal routine after her mom’s tragic death.

“She wanted to go back to school immediately,” he says. “And her school and Michelle’s family and my family basically saved my life those first three months.”

But the family’s return to “normal” came with some challenging moments, especially when Oswalt found himself questioned by Alice’s curious peers.

“She has this great little circle of friends,” he says. “But 6- and 7-year-olds, they don’t have a filter … Literally three days after Michelle died, one of her friends was like, ‘When Alice’s mom died, were you sad?’ I was like ‘Yes, I was. Thank you.’ ”

Holidays have also been difficult: Two weeks after McNamara died, it was Mother’s Day. In the hopes he would distract his daughter, Oswalt took her to see McNamara’s relatives in Chicago.

“I filled the week with action and adventure and fun and cousins and sleepovers,” he says. “I got through the week and then on Mother’s Day, that Sunday, we were gonna travel all day.”

And just as Oswalt was celebrating the trip’s success, boarding the plane with his daughter in tow took a difficult turn.

“I did it. I kept it out of her head,” he remembers thinking. “The woman that was tearing our tickets at O’Hare, she was this older Polish woman. Totally sweet, but as we gave her our tickets, [she] leaned down and said, ‘I heard about what happened to your wife. Your mother. My mother died when I was your age. I never got over it. And it broke my father — he never get over it. It was horrible, you’ll be sad for so long. I’m sad every day.’ ”

Though they are mourning, the comedian found some humor in even the most challenging moments — especially with the gate attendant.

“We got through Fourth of July, but I’m terrified that the Polish woman of doom is just going to loom up,” he jokes. “Like, we’re gonna go out trick-or-treating at Halloween and she’ll be there … I’m haunted. Like I’m gonna sit her on Santa’s lap at the mall and, ‘It is me. It was me the whole time.’ ”

— Blake Bakkila

Related Articles