Last week, comedian Patton Oswalt and actor Meredith Salenger announced that they got engaged. You’d think this would be happy news, but many of Oswalt’s fans took to shaming him online for “moving on” from losing his wife “too soon,” as if it’s anyone’s business to judge.
Salenger posted pictures of their announcement, with a sense of humor:
Oswalt himself didn’t say anything to the haters (a smart move), but 27-year-old Erica Roman, a widow who lost her husband within days of Oswalt losing his wife, had something to say about why finding love after loss is not shameful, but wonderful. She wrote in a blog post:
“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. …I [am] happy to see Patton Oswalt’s heart [has] expanded. I use that word intentionally. I say expanded because thats 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.”
She also addressed why it’s inappropriate to decide when someone “gets” to move on:
“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? Its 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.'”
Patton himself saw the post, and was grateful for what Roman said: