John Travolta Discusses His Experience With Grief After Tragic Death of Wife Kelly Preston

John Travolta and Kelly Preston at amfAR Gala in 2014
Pascal Le Segretain/amfAR14/WireImage

The actor opens up about losing his wife to cancer and how he's making sure he's the best father to their children.

Losing wife Kelly Preston to cancer was not easy for John Travolta. The 67-year-old actor gets candid about his experience with grief after the death of his beloved wife in a personal interview with Esquire Spain.

"I learned that mourning someone, dealing with grief is something very personal," Travolta told the publication. "Mourning is individual and experiencing your own journey is what can lead you to heal. Your grief is different from another person's journey."

Preston died in July 2020 after a battle with breast cancer. Travolta and Preston were married for 28 years and shared two children together -- 21-year-old daughter Ella and 10-year-old son Benjamin. Their son, Jett, died in 2009 at the age of 16.

"The most important thing you can do to help another person when they are in mourning is allow them to live through it and not complicate it with yours," he expresses. "Let's say you lose someone and at the funeral you are very sad, then another person approaches you who is feeling more sadder and then doesn't leave enough space for you to mourn. It would be like two boats plummeting to the bottom. That is my experience."

He adds that "even though it's great to have company, sometimes it turns into you helping them instead of you working on your loss and grief."

"You don't know how many people approached me…and then I felt saturated with everyone's sadness that I didn't know what to do," he continues about his wife's death, adding that the first thing one should do when you experience loss and grief is "go to a place where you can mourn without any interference." "If I die tomorrow, the last thing I want to see is everyone around me sinking," he says.

The actor, meanwhile, has made sure to be there for his children and support them in any way that he can. In February, he and his daughter broke the internet when they recreated his famous Grease dance for a Super Bowl commercial.

It was magic, because there is no one else in the world whom I would want to dance with than my daughter, Ella," he expresses. "It worked on so many levels. First, as a great piece of entertainment that people enjoyed. Second, it allowed me to introduce my daughter on a huge platform, show her talent, her beauty, and also it was a beautiful tribute for her mother."

"Kelly and I danced together. It was something very important for us," he says, noting that his and his daughter's video earned over five million views on social media. "Then we did a TikTok challenge and we asked people to recreate the choreography and it was a hit!"

And while he is still focusing on his career, he's more selective of what he's choosing to do. But first come his children.

"First of all, I'm going to ensure the future of my children, help them with whatever they want to do with their lives. It's what I'm doing with Ella right now, with her movies and teaching her about working in the industry," he shares. "Ben is barely 10 years old. I want to help him evolve, he has his whole life ahead of him."

Travolta, on his end, says he's looking for "musicals, good dramas and good comedies."

"I'm very selective right now because I have the privilege to be so," he notes. "I'm just figuring out what's next. The best thing I can do is try to get to the point in my life that allows me to be able to enjoy it, experiment with dance and music, and enjoy other people's company. If you can enjoy your life and at the same time enjoy being with the people around you, enjoy the dancing and music, you've made it."

For more on the Travolta family, see below.