Fans flooded Patton Oswalt and Meredith Salenger with well wishes last week after the two actors announced their engagement on social media.
But tucked in among the happy fans were a few critics who said the engagement comes too soon after the death of Oswalt’s wife, Michelle McNamara, and that trolling cut deep.
McNamara died in her sleep in April 2016. Her death sent the comedian into a spiral of grief that he has spoken openly about on social media in emotional essays about loss and being a single father to his young daughter, Alice.
In April, one year to the day after McNamara died, he wrote about taking off his wedding ring.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Kansas City Star
“Last night I took off my wedding ring. I couldn’t bear removing it since April 21st, 2016. But now it felt obscene,” he wrote. “That anonymous poem about the man mourning his dead lover for a year and a day, for craving a kiss from her ‘clay cold lips.’ I was inviting more darkness. Removing the ring was removing the last symbol of denial of who I was now, and what my life is, and what my responsibilities are. But it’s not fatal.”
He and Salenger, an actress, have dated for about three months and went public with their relationship last month at the Los Angeles premiere of the movie “Baby Driver.”
Salenger’s first starring role in Hollywood came at age 15 in Disney’s “The Journey of Natty Gann.” She’s done voiceover work for cartoons such as “Star Wars: The Clone Wars,” according to People.
She told fans last week on social media she had accepted Oswalt’s marriage proposal. They have not announced a wedding date yet.
Oswalt read the remarks online from people who said he should have waited longer to remarry out of respect for his first wife. The comments made him angry.
On Saturday he hit back at the critics with a Facebook post in which he shared a link to a blog post titled, “A Widow’s Rage Defense of Patton Oswalt’s Engagement,” by a woman named Erica Roman.
“I expected some bitter grub worms to weigh in (anonymously, always always always) with their much-needed opinions when I announced my engagement last week. And I decided to ignore them,” Oswalt wrote. “But yeah, I felt this rage. And Erica articulated it better than I could have ever hoped.”
Roman, who became a widow at the age of 27, blasted Oswalt’s critics.
“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,” she wrote. “You didn’t have to stand and watch your mundane morning turn into your absolute worst nightmare. Go back to scrolling Facebook and keep your ignorance to yourself.”
Salenger also linked to Roman’s blog post on Twitter.
“Everyone has been so lovely to us… ALL of Michelle’s siblings and friends and family… a few trolls have strong opinions,” Salenger wrote.
“But I think for Patton, having met and found love after over a year of intense therapy and openly grieving and dealing with his pain ... I am grateful to be the one who helps him climb out of the depths of grief and find some joy again. And most of all ... Alice is happy and feels loved.”