Patton Oswalt: My new grief superhero
I’m sure the last thing Patton Oswalt expected after describing his grief journey as being the complete opposite from the muscle crunching superhero experience, was to become a superhero himself. Yet that is exactly what he’s become for me. Why?
Because he describes the honest, ‘unpretty’ aspects of the grief journey. He talks about eating crackers for breakfast and watching a lot of TV. He talks about not doing pushups. Too often we hear only about those who have gone on with extra superhuman power to overcome their grief, still give their kids 3 square meals a day, work 3 jobs to overcome, develop abs of steel, etc, etc…. That’s definitely not how I handled things after my husband passed away, and reading someone else’s heroic achievements can actually be discouraging. Yet we don’t often hear the other side. The side which includes the depths of grief in which we hunker down, wear the same clothes for an entire week, eat a box of crackers for every meal, and watch mindless TV until 3am despite the fact that the kids will be up at 6 and need to be fed, clothed, and driven to school by 8:30am.
Along with telling the truth about his grief experience, Patton Oswalt also shares an exceptionally significant piece of information about the grief journey. He cautions us that the second year after a loss is indeed harder than the first. When my husband passed away, nobody told me this. And yet it is so true. The first year you’re in this fog, just surviving. But the second year, survival mode is ending. You wake up, only to realize it’s not a dream. You’ve made it through the year, but nothing changed. Your spouse did not come back. It’s still real. Now what?! I wished someone had told me this beforehand, warned me about the emotions yet to come. The ‘unpretty’ truth. Thank you, Patton Oswalt, for the truth.
Inspiring stories are necessary, it’s how we change the world. But the real life stories are just as important. It’s how we survive. By knowing that someone else is struggling as well. By knowing that they struggled, and survived, and came out the other end in one piece. For me, it’s more therapeutic to hear those stories. I feel less alone, something I feel most days now that I’m a widow. It makes me feel like someone understands what I’m going through. Somehow, grief seems less overwhelming when I feel like this is how it’s supposed to go. And when someone shares their real life, ‘unpretty’story, it gives me hope.
So, for however unexpected it may come, Patton Oswalt is my grief hero. His comments will reach millions, saving them in a way he most likely never even imagined. And that’s what a hero does.
Take Time – Acknowledge Your Loss – Grieve Together
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