John Travolta says he wouldn't have been able to cope with his son Jett's death if it weren't for Scientology.
Five years after losing his eldest son, who was autistic and died from a seizure during a family vacation in the Bahamas in 2009, the 59-year-old has opened up about his loss, crediting the controversial organization for helping him manage his grief by attending to him daily for the first two years following the tragedy.
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"Oh my God. I don't know what I would have done if I hadn't had the support of Scientology," the star of "The Forger" told U.K.'s Telegraph. "I don't think I could have got through it. They were with me every day after Jett died. They even traveled with me when I needed to get away. And for a solid two years it was like that. It was only in the second year that I started to take a break of a day or two just to see how I was doing on my own."
Travolta — who feared he would never act again following the tragedy, according to the article — said that he and his wife, Kelly Preston, openly discuss Jett at home with Ella, 13, and Ben, 3, to keep his memory alive. And although the "Grease" star became a Scientologist in 1975, he maintains the Catholic belief that "a person's soul lives on forever."
In the article, he also talked about his first experience with Scientology, which was with actress Joan Prather on the set of "The Devil's Rain" in Mexico the year he converted. “I wasn’t well and she gave me what’s called ‘an assist,'" he explained. "I got well very quickly after that, but I mean 30 minutes later."
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He later employed the technique to help a car-crash survivor who was suffering from pain from a broken ankle. In 2012, he told Scientology publication Celebrity Magazine, "I was in Shanghai recently at a work event and the Master of Ceremonies' best friend had recently gotten into a car wreck. He had broken his ankle and was in constant pain. I asked him permission to do some Scientology assists and he said, 'Okay, sure.' People were standing around watching. You could actually see him confronting the pain and after a while he looked up at me and said, 'I feel better.'"
This is the first the "Grease" alum, who's one of the most famous members of the group, has shared about using Scientology to cope with his tragedy, which was made worse when he was the target of a multi-million dollar extortion plot in connection to Jett's death and had to relive the ordeal on the witness stand just nine months later. That November, Travolta, who had otherwise been in relative seclusion, attended the press junket for "Old Dogs," a film he made with Preston and Ella, and spoke vaguely about the daily spiritual counseling the family was doing.
"We've been working very hard every day as a family to heal. We have our own way of doing it, and it has been helping. We work hard every day with our church on healing," Travolta told USA Today, without naming Scientology specifically.
Preston added, "We partake in spiritual counseling pretty much daily."
Then, in an interview with the U.K.'s Guardian last July, Travolta talked about Scientology sessions he underwent to help him get through some of his personal trauma.
"I love Scientology. I've been involved for 38 years, and I don't think I'd be here without it because I've had a lot of losses and different negative things that have happened over the years and it really got me through brilliantly," he said. "I would walk in to a session feeling one way and walk out feeling a lot better."
Preston — who has said that Jett's autism was caused by a collection of factors that included Kawasaki syndrome, complications from her "fast and hard" labor, and the use of antibiotics while breast feeding — talked even more about the role Scientology had in their healing process. In May 2012, she appeared on "The Conversation with Amanda de Cadenet" and said she would "forever be indebted" to the support of her fellow Scientologists for helping her overcome her grief, which she described as so heavy she felt like she was "drowning."
"In Scientology, we have what's called auditing, and that helps you to address things in your life and to strip them away," she explained. "It's a path of spiritual enlightenment. Also, it helps rid the mind of painful experience completely. Through that, the people at my church literally held my hand and got me through ... I will forever be indebted.
You never forget, but I feel like the weight of the world was lifted," she added.