Patton Oswalt's funny, brutally honest description of being a dad after losing his wife.

Patton Oswalt lost his wife of 11 years, Michelle McNamara, to unknown causes in April.

Photo by John Schearer/Getty Images.

In addition to leaving the comedian with a mountain of grief and unanswered questions, McNamara's sudden death left Oswalt the sole parent of their 7-year-old daughter, Alice.


In an interview with Conan O'Brien on Monday night, Oswalt described his unwilling transition to life as a single dad using a familiar analogy: television.

"I'm like every bad '80s sitcom where there's a dad raising a kid by himself, and the mom is somehow... Except my '80s sitcom sucks. There's no punchlines. It's just, there's a lot of insomnia. There's a lot of me eating Cheetos for dinner, and I'm waiting for my daughter to turn to the camera and go, 'No wonder I'm in therapy!'"

In an unflinching Facebook post in August, Oswalt described the intense pain and sense of paralysis he had been living with since losing his wife — and the overwhelming gratitude he felt toward the friends and family who have helped lift him up.  

The post ended with a promise.

"I'll start being funny again soon. What other choice do I have?"

In following through on that promise, Oswalt demonstrates that there's no one right way to process grief.

Using comedy as a lifeline out of tragedy — like comedian Tig Notaro, who performed a legendary, 30-minute stand-up set after learning she had breast cancer; or "Saturday Night Live's" Pete Davidson, who lost his father on 9/11 and claims that overcoming the loss gave him the courage to tell more fearless jokes — isn't just a tradition among comedians. It's intensely human.

It's also an acknowledgement that even in the face of great loss, the awkwardness and irony of life doesn't go away — as illustrated by a story Oswalt told O'Brien about an interaction with one of his daughter's playmates:

"One of her friends came up and was like — this was at a playdate weeks later — 'Is Alice gonna have a stepmom?' And I was like, 'I'm not really thinking about any of that right now.' And then she said, 'When my mom and dad stopped living together, I had a stepmom right way.' And I was like, 'I bet you did!'"

But perhaps the most important answer Oswalt gave in the interview was the first, in response to a question about how he's holding up:

GIF by Team Coco/YouTube.

Watch Oswalt's funny, poignant, heartbreaking account of helping his daughter navigate the most difficult time of their lives — including an epic, unforgettable story of an encounter with an elderly ticket-taker at the airport:

Images courtesy of Mark Storhaug & Kaiya Bates

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The experiences we have at school tend to stay with us throughout our lives. It's an impactful time where small acts of kindness, encouragement, and inspiration go a long way.

Schools, classrooms, and teachers that are welcoming and inclusive support students' development and help set them up for a positive and engaging path in life.

Here are three of our favorite everyday actions that are spreading kindness on campus in a big way:

Image courtesy of Mark Storhaug

1. Pickleball to Get Fifth Graders Moving

Mark Storhaug is a 5th grade teacher at Kingsley Elementary in Los Angeles, who wants to use pickleball to get his students "moving on the playground again after 15 months of being Zombies learning at home."

Pickleball is a paddle ball sport that mixes elements of badminton, table tennis, and tennis, where two or four players use solid paddles to hit a perforated plastic ball over a net. It's as simple as that.

Kingsley Elementary is in a low-income neighborhood where outdoor spaces where kids can move around are minimal. Mark's goal is to get two or three pickleball courts set up in the schoolyard and have kids join in on what's quickly becoming a national craze. Mark hopes that pickleball will promote movement and teamwork for all his students. He aims to take advantage of the 20-minute physical education time allotted each day to introduce the game to his students.

Help Mark get his students outside, exercising, learning to cooperate, and having fun by donating to his GoFundMe.

Image courtesy of Kaiya Bates

2. Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids

According to the WHO around 280 million people worldwide suffer from depression. In the US, 1 in 5 adults experience mental illness and 1 in 20 experience severe mental illness, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Kaiya Bates, who was recently crowned Miss Tri-Cities Outstanding Teen for 2022, is one of those people, and has endured severe anxiety, depression, and selective mutism for most of her life.

Through her GoFundMe, Kaiya aims to use her "knowledge to inspire and help others through their mental health journey and to spread positive and factual awareness."

She's put together regulation kits (that she's used herself) for teachers to use with students who are experiencing stress and anxiety. Each "CALM-ing" kit includes a two-minute timer, fidget toolboxes, storage crates, breathing spheres, art supplies and more.

Kaiya's GoFundMe goal is to send a kit to every teacher in every school in the Pasco School District in Washington where she lives.

To help Kaiya achieve her goal, visit Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids.

Image courtesy of Julie Tarman

3. Library for a high school heritage Spanish class

Julie Tarman is a high school Spanish teacher in Sacramento, California, who hopes to raise enough money to create a Spanish language class library.

The school is in a low-income area, and although her students come from Spanish-speaking homes, they need help building their fluency, confidence, and vocabulary through reading Spanish language books that will actually interest them.

Julie believes that creating a library that affirms her students' cultural heritage will allow them to discover the joy of reading, learn new things about the world, and be supported in their academic futures.

To support Julie's GoFundMe, visit Library for a high school heritage Spanish class.

Do YOU have an idea for a fundraiser that could make a difference? Upworthy and GoFundMe are celebrating ideas that make the world a better, kinder place. Visit upworthy.com/kindness to join the largest collaboration for human kindness in history and start your own GoFundMe.

Cipolla's graph with the benefits and losses that an individual causes to him or herself and causes to others.

Have you ever known someone who was educated, well-spoken, and curious, but had a real knack for making terrible decisions and bringing others down with them? These people are perplexing because we're trained to see them as intelligent, but their lives are a total mess.

On the other hand, have you ever met someone who may not have a formal education or be the best with words, but they live wisely and their actions uplift themselves and others?

In 1976, Italian economist Carlo Cipolla wrote a tongue-and-cheek essay called "The Basic Laws of Human Stupidity" that provides a great framework for judging someone's real intelligence. Now, the term stupid isn't the most artful way of describing someone who lives unwisely, but in his essay Cipolla uses it in a lighthearted way.

Cipolla explains his theory of intelligence through five basic laws and a matrix that he belives applies to everyone.

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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."