Patton Oswalt experienced the unimaginable last April when his wife of ten years, journalist and writer Michelle McNamara, suddenly passed away in her sleep. The comedian has remained open about his grieving process since her tragic passing, detailing his struggle with various posts online and a heartbreaking tribute to Michelle during the 2016 Emmys.
Losing a loved one is certainly among life's most challenging situations, especially when it occurs in such a sudden way. There truly are no words to express the immense difficulty with attempting to move forward with your life.
Oswalt recently announced his engagement to actress Meredith Salenger and for every excited, well-wishing fan, there's bound to be a few lurking trolls waiting to spread their vitriolic hate across the internet. Unfortunately, this has also been the case regarding Oswalt's engagement. Across a number of social media outlets, these trolls recently berated Oswalt and McNamara's decision to spend the rest of their lives together.
However, after seeing just how insensitive certain comments were, fan Erica Roman took to her website to pen a poignant essay to defend Oswalt against these ridiculous comments by detailing her own experience of losing her spouse just a few days prior to McNamara's passing.
"So, my dear ignorant, judgmental, assholes, this one is for you."
Roman began her essay by expressing her happiness for fellow widower Oswalt, revealing how it "quickly shifted to indignant anger on his behalf as [she] began to read the comments". She states that reading the "judgement and disdain" made by these commenters compelled her to address them using the essay.
She pleasantly dedicated the rest of her post for those "dear ignorant, judgmental, assholes" and aptly began to tear down commentators who believe they can be the judge of when a widower should find love again:
"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? [It's] 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.”
Roman argues that seeing a widower managing to open up their heart to someone new despite their hyper-awareness that "everyone they see will someday die" rightfully deserves "a freaking parade" for illustrating such courage in the face of immense grief.
She continues by taking aim at those who insist that a widow's decision to find love again is somehow "replacing" the previous love they lost.
"... The person who comes after cannot and will not replace the one we lost. To imply that is insulting to the widow, it’s insulting to the new love and it’s insulting to the love who was lost. Earlier I said that I was happy to see Patton Oswalt’s heart had expanded. I used that word intentionally. I say expanded because [that's] what widowed hearts do. They expand. 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."
"We’ve gone through hell fire and lived. We don’t need your negativity in our lives. So please, if what you have to say about a widow or widower finding love again isn’t supportive and encouraging then keep it to yourself. We aren’t interested in hearing it."
Oswalt took to Twitter to state his appreciation for Roman's words and revealed that he chose to "ignore the grub worms" who plagued his online feed.
Salenger followed up Oswalt's tweet with a heartfelt post, sharing the love she has for her future husband and stepdaughter.
Roman's Twitter account has since been bombarded by overwhelming support by those who were touched by her recent Facebook post. She replied to Oswalt's previous tweet by wishing the actor and his future wife "all the best":
Trolls will be a mainstay in the world of the internet. It's an unfortunate reality we all face when interacting with strangers online. However, it's great to realize that the internet can still be a force for good. Thanks to the actions of people like Erica Roman, who choose to speak against adverse behavior online, social media can be a supportive community for like-minded individuals.
What are your thoughts on Roman's post? Let me know in the comments below.