Patton Oswalt on Losing His Wife: ‘I’m Struggling to Continue Through This Shipwreck’

“She approached motherhood with the same bemused optimism she met everything else with,” comedian says of Michelle McNamara

patton oswalt michelle mcnamara
Patton Oswalt and Michelle McNamara (Getty Images)

Patton Oswalt has opened up about the recent sudden death of his wife, Michelle McNamara, in a raw and heart-wrenching interview.

Describing the weeks since McNamara unexpectedly died at age 46 on April 21 in their Los Angeles home as a “shipwreck,” the comedian shared how he will keep her memory alive for their seven-year-old daughter, Alice.

“She approached motherhood with the same bemused optimism she met everything else with,” Oswalt told People. “She loved being a mother.”

“She was always honest about what frustrated her and exhausted her about it, as well as what her apprehensions were about raising a daughter, especially in this world,” she continued. “She taught me it was OK to be honest and open about those seemingly negative things because, once you gave voice to them? They didn’t seem too bad.”

McNamara was the founder of the website True Crime Diary, which detailed breaking news and cold cases alike. She eschewed high-profile crimes for more obscure stories, writing about the Golden State Killer and the murder of nurse Melanie Howell in 1976.

While she took her work very seriously, “she made being a parent fun, which I’m struggling to continue through this shipwreck,” Oswalt, 47, went on to say. “Reading every night, and planning cool trips, and always scouring the Internet for out-of-the-way weekend activities around Los Angeles. And she has a sprawling legion of Irish siblings, cousins, nieces and nephews. Our daughter, through her, got very comfortable very quickly with meeting different people.”

Admitting that he can “get a little hermit-like,” the comic whose credits include the sitcom “The King of Queens,” “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” and the film”Ratatouille,” said his wife of nine years encouraged him to get out and be more sociable.

“She saw how opening up to other people and experiences I’d normally avoid made me calmer and stronger. But she was fighting back against 34 years of my bad habits,” says Oswalt. “Alice [their daughter] had the benefit of learning from Michelle’s example from the get-go.

“Now it’s up to me to carry that on. I would be beyond happy if Alice were 80 percent Michelle and maybe 20 percent me. The 20 percent will probably be pop culture knowledge, but I’m doing what I can.”