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See Patton Oswalt's Touching Post on 5th Anniversary of Late Wife's Death

"Of course I thought of her today," the actor and comedian wrote.

It has been five years since writer Michelle McNamara died at the age of 46, and her husband, actor and comedian Patton Oswalt, marked the anniversary of his wife's passing with an emotional post on Instagram. Oswalt has been open about his experience with grief, mourning, and finding love again in the time since McNamara's death, and his post on the anniversary of her death is an honest account of his feelings five years on.

McNamara was a true crime writer, known for investigating "the Golden State Killer" and giving him his now infamous nickname. She wrote the book I'll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer, which was released after her death. She's also the subject of the HBO documentary I'll Be Gone in the Dark about her research into the then-unidentified serial killer.

McNamara died in her sleep on Apr. 21, 2016. As Oswalt later shared, the cause of her death was confirmed to be the prescription drugs she was taking combined with an undiagnosed heart condition. "We learned today the combination of drugs in Michelle's system, along with a condition we were unaware of, proved lethal," Oswalt said in a statement to the Associated Press.

Read on to see what Oswalt said in the Instagram post he shared on Wednesday. And for another account of coping through the grief of losing a spouse, read John Travolta Shares One of the Hardest Things About Losing Kelly Preston.

He reflected on how her absence continues to impact their family.

A photo of Michelle McNamara that Patton Oswalt posted on Instagram
Patton Oswalt/Instagram

Oswalt posted two photos of McNamara on Instagram and wrote about how his mourning of her connects to his relationship with their daughter, 12-year-old Alice, and his current wife, actor Meredith Salenger.

"Of course I thought of her today," the Young Adult actor wrote of McNamara. "And I also thought of Alice, and how the loss shaped her and continues to shape her. And how Meredith swooped into our lonely, broken lives and helped put the pieces back together, stronger and sleeker than they were before."

For another take on managing grief, read Iconic Radio Host Delilah Opens Up About the Tragic Loss of Her 3 Sons.

He called Alice "a living piece of Michelle."

Patton Oswalt and his daughter Alice in an Instagram selfie
Patton Oswalt/Instagram

Oswalt went on to write about how McNamara's memory is kept alive through their daughter.

"This dark day gets a little less dark every year when I see how Alice—a living piece of Michelle safe in the hands of Meredith—keeps walking in light," he shared. "I'm there to catch the shadows that try to creep in at the edges, or from behind. I'm good at spotting them, and then Alice helps me laugh them away. And what's left is this beautiful, living memory."

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Oswalt has shared openly about his experience losing a spouse.

Michelle McNamara and Patton Oswalt at the LACMA Art + Film Gala in 2011
Kathy Hutchins /

On social media and in interviews, Oswalt has spoken out about the sudden loss of McNamara. Two weeks after her death, in May 2016, he wrote a piece for Time magazine in which he celebrated her achievements and the affect she had on her family and friends.

"Her family is devastated but can't help remember all of the times she made them laugh or comforted them, and they smile and laugh themselves," he wrote. "She hasn't left a void. She's left a blast crater."

Oswalt also talked about a realization his then seven-year-old daughter had, which is reflected in his recent Instagram post.

"Five days after Michelle was gone, Alice and I were half-awake at dawn, after a night of half-sleeping," he wrote. "Alice sat up in bed. Her face was silhouetted in the dawn light of the bedroom windows. I couldn't see her expression. I just heard her voice: 'When your mom dies you're the best memory of her. Everything you do and say is a memory of her.' That's the kind of person Michelle created and helped shape."

Read about a father and daughter who went through a similar experience in Here's What Anna Nicole Smith's Daughter Looks Like Now.

Oswalt and Salenger got married in November 2017. 

Meredith Salenger and Patton Oswalt in an Instagram selfie
Patton Oswalt/Instagram

Oswalt and Salenger began their relationship by chatting on Facebook, and went on to meet in real life. "When I met Patton and Alice, it just felt so, so right," Salenger told People. "I never thought I'd get married, but then I fell madly in love."

As for Oswalt, he told the magazine how grateful he is to have found love again. "I've only ever felt that level of joy once before in my life, and it was so profound and perfect it felt greedy to ever wish for it again," he said. "But I did, so now all I can do is show Meredith a level of gratitude and love that's greater than the joy she's brought me, and my daughter Alice. Because this is a new level of joy, and a new life, and I'll always strive to deserve it."

For more couples in love, check out 12 Beloved, Long-Term Celebrity Couples, Then and Now.

Lia Beck
Lia Beck is a writer living in Richmond, Virginia. In addition to Best Life, she has written for Refinery29, Bustle, Hello Giggles, InStyle, and more. Read more
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