How John Travolta has been dealing with heartbreak following Kelly Preston’s death

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On the oneyear anniversary of Kelly Preston’s death, John Travolta has taken many public steps to both mourn and move forward. 

One year ago today, the actor shared the news that his wife had died at age 57 after a secret battle with breast cancer. The “Grease” star took to Instagram at the time to share an image of his late bride and announce the sad news. 

“It is with a very heavy heart that I inform you that my beautiful wife Kelly has lost her two-year battle with breast cancer,” Travolta wrote on Instagram on July 12, 2020. “She fought a courageous fight with the love and support of so many.”

He continued: “My family and I will forever be grateful to her doctors and nurses at MD Anderson Cancer Center, all the medical centers that have helped, as well as her many friends and loved ones who have been by her side. Kelly’s love and life will always be remembered. 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. All my love, JT.”

Since that time, all eyes have been on the 67-year-old, as well as son Benjamin, 10 and daughter Ella, 21, to see how they’re coping with yet another loss for the family. Travolta’s son Jett passed away in 2009 at age 16 after suffering a seizure at the family’s vacation home in the Bahamas.

One year later, it’s worth taking a look at all the ways in which Travolta has been honoring his beloved wife:

Kelly’s birthday

John Travolta and Kelly Preston were married from 1991 to her death in 2020. They shared three children.

Travolta took a bit of a break from the public eye following Preston’s death in the summer of 2020. However, he broke his silence in the fall on what would have been her 58th birthday

The actor marked the Oct. 12 occasion by sharing a post showing his parents, Salvatore and Helen, in a black-and-white photo on their wedding day as well as another image of him and Preston on theirs. 

“Happy Birthday hon! I found this photo of my mom and dad’s wedding. It was nice to see ours alongside theirs,” Travolta captioned the side-by-side pictures.”All my love, John.”

The romantic gesture to his departed wife was the first time he’d tribute her publicly after she died, but it would not be his last. 

First holiday

John Travolta spoke out on the first holiday since his wife’s passing.
(Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

The holidays are an especially difficult time for grieving family members, and Travolta was no different. The star took to Instagram again last year to share a post marking the family’s first Thanksgiving without their matriarch. 

In it, he specifically addressed the fans who had shown their support for him and his children following Preston’s death, noting that they were the thing that he was the most thankful for on that particularly difficult holiday. 

“I just want to take this moment to thank each and every one of you for supporting me in such an incredible way this year,” Travolta said in a video post at the time. “Happy Thanksgiving and always love.”

Unfortunately, he was mum on details about how the family was celebrating the holiday, if at all, in the wake of his wife’s death months prior. Still, the message of gratitude was not lost on fans who were concerned about his wellbeing. 

Back to basics on Super Bowl Sunday

John Travolta and daughter Ella appeared in a Super Bowl commercial in 2020.

While Thanksgiving is a much more obvious holiday for families, Travolta and his daughter, Ella, noted that they are particularly big Super Bowl fans and like to spend each year together watching both the big game and the myriad of commercials that come with it. 

However, in 2020 they decided to up their game for the big day by appearing together in a Super Bowl ad for Scotts Miracle-Gro that allowed them to show off both their father-daughter relationship as well as their dance moves. 

The ad sees Travolta struggle with an iPhone tripod before getting assistance from Ella, who then joins him in recreating the iconic “Grease” dance he performed alongside Olivia Newton-John in the 1978 classic. 

“Super Bowl for me is a major yearly celebration,” Travolta noted ahead of the big premiere. “When Scotts Miracle-Gro asked me to do an ad for the Super Bowl with my daughter I was thrilled, especially since we were asked to dance together.”

It seems the famous couple closed its ranks a bit to get on with their lives by way of music and the tradition of their Super Bowl Sunday. 

“Each year I always look forward to watching the Super Bowl and all of the great commercials,” Ella added. “When Scotts Miracle-Gro offered my dad and I this opportunity, I was overjoyed to share this amazing experience — not to mention dance together!”

His birthday

John Travolta’s daughter, Ella, shared a birthday message for him after her mom, Kelly Preston, died months prior. 
(Randy Holmes via Getty Images)

In an act of further proof that the actor and Ella were closing ranks in order to support each other, the next time Travolta’s name made headlines was after his daughter took to Instagram to pay tribute to him on his 67th birthday in February. 

“Happy Birthday to the most incredible man I have ever known. You are not only the best Dad ever, but you are also my best friend,” the budding actress wrote on Instagram

She also took a moment to thank her dad for helping to raise her and her brothers, an obvious wink at her late mom and his continued efforts to pick up the slack she left behind. 

“The world is so lucky to have you and so are we. I love you Daddy. I had the best time celebrating your birthday with you yesterday 

Returning the fatherly favor

John Travolta wished his daughter a happy birthday earlier this year in the wake of his wife, Kelly Preston’s death.
(Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP, File)

Turning 21 is a big milestone for people in America. So, to make sure that his daughter didn’t feel depressed at the loss of her mom on her big day in April, Travolta shared an Instagram post of his own wishing her a happy birthday. 

“Happy 21st birthday to the most beautiful, kind, human being and artist I know. Your dad adores you!,” the “Grease” star captioned the image.

He completed the post with a heart emoji to further demonstrate his love for his kid. 

A shared tragedy

Jett Travolta with father John.

Unfortunately, the loss of his wife wasn’t the only family tragedy that Travolta and his family had to endure. In 2009, he and Preston’s 16-year-old son, Jett, died while on a family vacation to the Bahamas. Jett, who was autistic and prone to having seizures, died after he had a seizure in the bathtub that resulted in a head injury. 

In April, Travolta marked what would have been his first-born son’s 28th birthday with a sweet post mourning his loss. 

“Happy birthday my beautiful Jetty. I love you,” he captioned the black-and-white photo

Although he didn’t mention his late wife directly, many in the comments were quick to note how difficult the day must have been for Travolta. Before she died, Preston would always mark her late son’s birthday with sweet posts of her own honoring him. Now, once again, Travolta was left to do the emotional heavy lifting for his family by himself. 

Opening up

Actor John Travolta arrives at the 22nd Annual Critics’ Choice Awards in Santa Monica, California, U.S., December 11, 2016.
(REUTERS/Danny Moloshok )

Travolta spent the first few months after his wife’s death simply letting his fans know that he was in the mourning process and trying to take care of his family as best he can. However, in April the actor sat down for an interview with Esquire España in which he talked about the lessons he’d learned in the wake of two major personal tragedies. 

“I learned that mourning someone is something personal,” he told the Spanish outlet. “Mourning is individual and experiencing your own journey is what can lead to healing. This is different from someone else’s journey.”

He said that he learned the most important thing one can do for someone in mourning is to simply let them have their individual process and not try to project their own feelings of grief on other mourners. 

“Let’s say you lose someone and at the funeral, you are very sad, another person approaches who is feeling sadder and then does not leave enough space for you to mourn,” he explained. “Otherwise, it will be two boats plummeting to the bottom. That is my experience.”

The star didn’t mention his family directly, but his interview seemingly implied that he had to learn to give his family their own space. In addition, he had to learn to give himself the space he needed as well. 

“The first thing you should do when you experience grief is to go to a place where you can mourn, without any interference,” the star concluded. “If I die tomorrow, the last thing I want to see is that everyone around is sunk.”

Mother’s Day

Kelly Preston died in July of 2020.

Travolta honored his wife on social media once again on Mother’s Day, this time with a rare post written directly for her. The actor shared an old image of himself, Preston and Benjamin laying in bed dressed in all white along with a second photo showing him, Preston and Jett when he was much younger. 

“Dearest Kelly, you brought into my life three of the most wonderful children I have ever known. Thank you. We love and miss you. Happy Mother’s Day,” the actor wrote at the time

After spending the better part of a year focusing on his remaining family member’s wellbeing and learning to live with the grief of his loss, the star was finally talking about Preston directly and sounding grateful for what she left him in life — his kids. 

Moving forward

John Travolta announced a new film role following the death of his wife, Kelly Preston.
(Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Image)

Travolta appears to be looking ahead to the future and he’s even trying to get back to work as an actor following a year of mourning his family as he knew it. 

In May, it was announced that he is set to star alongside his “Pulp Fiction” co-star, Bruce Willis, in a film titled “Paradise City.” 

Deadline reports the film started production the following month in Maui, Hawaii, meaning that he is likely already hard at work on the next chapter in his long and storied career. 

According to the report, the action flick will see Willis, 66, seek vengeance against Travolta, a kingpin who murdered Willis’ family member.

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