When the internet should mind its own business

The minute Patton Oswalt announced his engagement last week, everyone pretty much knew what was coming.

The internet commenters would not approve.

Oswalt’s wife, Michelle McNamara, died in her sleep in April 2016. She was a journalist who received her master’s degree from the University of Minnesota.

The comedian didn’t start performing again until September, a few months after his Facebook post on the subject of grief.

Okay, I’ll start being funny again soon. What other choice do I have? Reality is in a death spiral and we seem to be living in a cackling, looming nightmare-swamp. We’re all being dragged into a shadow-realm of doom by hateful lunatics who are determined to send our planet careening into oblivion.

Funny thing about grief. It doesn’t necessarily prevent you from finding love again and last week Oswalt announced his engagement to actress Meredith Salenger.

For some, apparently, it was too soon, as if the internet gives people the authority to determine how long grief should strike you down.

“I expected some bitter grub worms to weigh in (anonymously, always always always) with their much-needed opinions when I announced my engagement last week,” he wrote on Facebook on Saturday. “And I decided to ignore them.”

But he couldn’t, because what human could when told you didn’t love your dead wife enough? You didn’t grieve enough?

Instead, Oswalt pointed his fans to a blog post from Erica Roman, whose husband died about the same time as Oswalt’s wife.

You aren’t entitled to an opinion. You don’t get to comment on the choices of a widower while you sit happily next to your own living spouse. You didn’t have to stand and watch your mundane morning turn into your absolute worst nightmare. You didn’t have to face the agony of despair and the only person who could possibly bring you comfort had been ripped from your life forever. You didn’t have to stand in the ashes of what was once your life, when the sun itself darkened and the very air you breathed felt toxic in your lungs. Go back to scrolling Facebook and keep your ignorance to yourself.

Who gave you the position to judge when it’s “too soon” for a person who has suffered the worst to be able to find happiness and companionship again? Its been 15 months! How long should a widow sit in isolation before YOU are comfortable enough to release them from their solitary confinement? Because it’s really about you isn’t it? You aren’t actually concerned about the heart of the person who has found the strength and courage to love once more. You’re worried about your own offended sensibilities rooted in old Victorian traditions. Stop pretending you are actually concerned about their “healing.”

A widowed heart expands, she said.

“One love isn’t moved out to make room for someone new. An addition is built. Just like my love for my daughter was not diminished by the birth of my son, so too, the love widows can have for someone new does not diminish the love of the one lost. The expansion of the heart is part of the grieving process.”

  • AL287

    It’s very easy to express hurtful and demeaning things and stand in judgment of another when you don’t have to say them face to face.

    I’m sure there are people out there who think he killed his wife. Even young adults can die in their sleep, many times from heart arrhythmias they never knew they had.

    I wish Patton Oswalt and his bride-to-be every happiness in the world.