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Dr. Therese Rando

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Helen Fitzgerald

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Grieving the Loss of a Child

Grieving the Loss of a Child

Nothing is worse than a parent outliving one of their children. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what John Travolta and Kelly Preston are facing after the sudden death of their 16 year-old son, Jett.

According to Travolta’s lawyer, Jett suffered a seizure Friday morning at his family’s vacation home at the Old Bahama Bay Hotel on Grand Bahama Island. The teen apparently had a history of seizures. His parents had confirmed in the past that he suffered from Kawasaki Syndrome, which can lead to heart disease as well as asthma. They denied rumors that Jett was autistic.

“He’s my first, and he’s my heart. And he’s a very special boy,” Travolta said in an interview several years ago. “He’s Daddy’s boy. And we spend a lot of time together even though I’m pretty busy. He loves the outdoors and he loves to travel.”

Losing a child is a heartbreak many people don’t recover from, but I had read somewhere that losing a firstborn is particularly difficult. Maybe it’s because of the time you spent with him/her as the only child that makes that bond run a bit deeper. Whatever the reason, I have no idea what this family is going through right now—and I pray I never do.

Share your stories or thoughts below. –Linda DiProperzio

Posted: 1/5/09

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I lost my daughter Khloe about six weeks ago. She was two years old. I know what Lori is speaking of when she says that she barely has the strength to get out of the bed in the mornings because that is just how I feel. I can't understand how a child could go from being perfectly normal going to bed one night, and then deceased a few short hours later. My face is numb. The bright smile that use to grace the world has been turned into a brick wall that flows tears because of the unknown. I am devastated. My entire world feels like is has been shaken up like a snow globe. I wonder how someone could feel so much pain and bear it. My tootie was my everything. My life basically revolved around her needs. I sit and watch the rest of the world continue like nothing has happened, and I can't seem to change the repeat button on that day. I hope I am able to live on and to care for my other children the way I use to. It's just so hard. I think about something she said, and I cry. I see her clothes and shoes and I cry. Please pray for my strength and for the strength of other parents going through similiar experiences.


I also lost my firstborn child to a seizure on January 20, 2009. I remember so clearly eating dinner one night while the tragic news of John Travolta's sons death was being shown on the local television stations news. I remember looking at my daughter, Courtney, who was about to turn 25 on Jan 14th and also looking at her little brother, who is 11 yrs old and saying how very tragic this was and "God Bless that family". I had hoped that Courtney did not pay too much attention to the story because I did not want her to worry that everyone with seizure disorders as herself was prone to accidents as such and could die any easier than anyone else.( She had always been very healthy and functioned normally with the exception of not being able to drive and being a little slow as she became older) I was devastated when less than a week after we celebrated my daughters 25th birthday she died from a seizure in her sleep. I planned a birthday celebration and a funeral for my daughter in the same week. There are no words to describe the pain of a mother losing a child. It has only been 2 months so I'm not able to comprehend brighter days yet. Right now I go through the day in a fog, functioning only because I have 2 boys that need me.I go to work each day, then at night wonder how I even made it through the day because I have very little memory of what my day was like. It is such a struggle just to get out of bed and stand upright each day.I feel that if I cry about Courtney, I will upset others. So I keep it to myself and cry myself to sleep each night remembering my little girl who is now a sweet angel in heaven. I pray for easier days for myself, my family, the Travolta family and other families who have lost a child.
Lori Holland


I too lost my first born child. She was just 16 when she died. Yes the first born is different. For awhile they are the only child to be dotted on and spoiled beond belief. your other children will never be an only child. oh they will be special in their own way. Jennifer was my best friend we would talk for hours and she would tell me everything. she was also the first grandchild on both sides so you have got to know that her birth was like the birth of a queen. It has been 20 years and it still hurts and the tears still flow ( i just make sure that no one sees) linda sickles


This story just breaks my heart. I cannot imagine losing a child -- the heartbreak must be insufferable. My thoughts go out to John Travolta and his family.


My thoughts and prayers are with the Travolta family. There is a poem I wrote about the loss of a child called, You are not alone. I read the poem this morning and said a little prayer for this family. It is very difficult but yes you do heal. You never forget but you do go on.


I called my mother over the weekend and she said she had some bad news ... I froze because I wasn't sure what she was going to say next. When she told me about John Travolta's son I was truly saddened to hear it. My heart goes out to the family. I'm sure many people are silently grieving in their hearts for the Travolta family.