Patton Oswalt lost his wife of 11 years, Michelle McNamara, to unknown causes in April.
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.
<p>In an <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iuLKSvoK8KA" target="_blank">interview with Conan O'Brien on Monday night</a>, Oswalt described his unwilling transition to life as a single dad using a familiar analogy: television. </p><blockquote>"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 <em>sucks</em>. 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!'"</blockquote><h2>In an <a href="https://www.facebook.com/pattonoswalt/posts/10154029789952655" target="_blank">unflinching Facebook post in August</a>, 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. </h2><p>The post ended with a promise.</p><p><em>"I'll start being funny again soon. What other choice do I have?"</em></p><h2>In following through on that promise, Oswalt demonstrates that there's no one right way to process grief.</h2><p>Using comedy as a lifeline out of tragedy — like comedian Tig Notaro, who performed a <a href="http://gawker.com/5949371/that-legendary-tig-notaro-stand-up-set-is-now-available-on-louis-cks-website" target="_blank">legendary, 30-minute stand-up set</a> 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 <a href="http://www.businessinsider.com/how-losing-his-dad-on-911-at-age-7-helped-pete-davidson-become-an-snl-star-2015-10" target="_blank">courage to tell more fearless jokes</a> — isn't just a tradition among comedians. It's intensely human. </p><p>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:</p><blockquote>"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!'"</blockquote><h2>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:</h2><div><div class="push-wrapper--mobile" data-card="image" data-reactroot=""><img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xOTUwNjcwOS9vcmlnaW4uZ2lmIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0Mzk5Njk0NX0.XobpA9vIjt7IFcfILhjHESgms9BSsKWQtyLjSIBFjm0/img.gif?width=980" id="a87ad" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="2412c095ac96001990e5bb002c8ee27c" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image"><div class="image-caption"><p>GIF by Team Coco/YouTube.</p></div></div></div><p><strong>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: </strong></p><div><div data-card="youtube" data-reactroot=""><div><span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="f22a7629f24f47a44ca9c3d78e84f44f"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/iuLKSvoK8KA?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span></div></div></div>
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