"I'm like the Hulk of crying": Patton Oswalt describes random grief triggers following his wife's unexpected death

"I started crying," he recalled, "thinking there's apps on her phone that will never update again"

By Brendan Gauthier
Published November 3, 2016 12:14PM (EDT)

Patton Oswalt on Wednesday guested on Jimmy Fallon's "Tonight Show," during which he reflected on his wife's death six months earlier and the sometimes bizarre ways his grief manifests itself.

"The thing about grief is, it likes its surprises," he explained. "A couple of months ago, if I started to cry or have a moment where I missed her, it was for a reason. ... Now, grief will make me cry at stuff — I have no idea why I'm doing it, because it so knows all the triggers, but it wants to surprise me."

He offered an example: "I was waiting for an app to update and I don't know why, but I started crying, thinking there's apps on her phone that will never update again. It was the dumbest thing."

"So now I'm like the Hulk of crying," he added. "Like, I don't know when I'm gonna Hulk-out crying — it'll be for nothing."

Oswalt's wife, author Michelle McNamara, died unexpectedly in April at the age of 46.

McNamara was feverishly writing and researching a book on the Golden State Killer. Oswalt gave more details about the circumstances of her death in a recent New York Times profile.

"Worried about her health ... [Oswalt] suggested that she take a night to 'sleep until you wake up,'" The Times said. "So on April 21, Ms. McNamara took some Xanax and went to bed."

When Oswalt returned home after driving the couple's seven-year-old daughter to school the next morning, the Times reported, he "went to his home office, answered emails, did two phone interviews and noticed some sad news online: Prince had died. He shot off a series of tweets and returned to his bedroom to find his wife still in bed. She wasn’t breathing. It was 12:42 p.m. When the paramedics arrived, they pronounced her dead."

Brendan Gauthier

Brendan Gauthier is a freelance writer.

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Golden State Killer Grief Jimmy Fallon Michelle Mcnamara Patton Oswalt Tonight Show