No matter who you are, at some point, you will experience a loss of some kind. When that happens, you’ll begin to understand just how deeply personal loss, mourning, and grief are. They are personal in that they are experienced, observed, and expressed differently by pretty much everyone and that they put you in a place of raw vulnerability. While we will all one day understand the nuance there, many of us will never understand what it means to experience all of these things as a celebrity while the world watches and judges. Perhaps this is why actor John Travolta has waited almost a year before opening up about the loss of his wife Kelly Preston. 

From the beginning of the interview, Travolta establishes his understanding that everyone is different when it comes to processing tragedy and death in the family. He says,

“Living in mourning is something personal.”

and explains that while many people would want to be around lots of folks to go through something like this together, he found that after making sure his children were alright and well taken care of, he preferred to be alone and face his feelings one-on-one. He commented that it is difficult to deal with one’s own feelings of sadness and loss when those feelings are complicated by the feelings of others. He advises that people dealing with loss should go somewhere that they can be all alone and process their feelings without any outside interference and without feeling like you have to pick up someone else’s pieces before you can pick up your own. Following that advice, he also advises those with family or friends who are going through loss and grief, saying, “The most important thing you can do to help another when they are in mourning is to allow them to live it and not complicate it with yours.”

With the way he discusses the processing of his feelings and the way he uses phrasing like “living in mourning,” I can only imagine that the pain is still very fresh for him, not something that he has gone through and is now on the other side of. Before signing off, he gives all his fans and supporters a quick little heads-up, saying, “I will be taking some time to be there for my children who have lost their mother, so forgive me in advance if you don’t hear from us for a while. But please know that I will feel your outpouring of love in the weeks and months ahead as we heal.”

These sound like the words of someone who knows what is best for himself and for his family.

Have you ever supported a friend through a loss? How has someone supported you? What do you think the best way to be there for one another is?