“I don’t know what I would have done if I hadn’t had the support of Scientology,” he said. “I don’t think I could have got through it. They were with me every day after Jett died. They even travelled with me when I needed to get away. And for a solid two years it was like that: they were there every day.”
Scientology, he claimed “really does provide a method that helps you handle extreme tragedies.” Among Hubbard’s teachings is the belief that those who die are born again in a new body – unlike reincarnation, which involves an element of judgement for past lives, Hubbard once described his vision as, “simply living time after time, getting a new body, eventually losing it and getting a new one”.
Travolta first embraced Scientology in 1975 after being introduced to it by the actress Joan Prather on the set of The Devil’s Rain in Mexico. “I wasn’t well and she gave me what’s called ‘an assist’,” he later recalled. “I got well very quickly after that, but when I say quickly, I mean 30 minutes later.”
Scientology, he has said on numerous occasions, offers not just ideas, but also practical tools – “workable technology” is how he refers to them – to banish pain. “I believe L Ron Hubbard resolved the human mind,” he said in 2013, “and in resolving it he has also resolved human pain – that’s what I really think has happened here.”
Whatever the merits or otherwise of his religion, Travolta will need all the tools at his disposal to cope with this third tragedy. In the Instagram post announcing his wife’s death, he added: “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.”
Grief is not something that can be overcome by force of will, just as cancer – as Travolta knows all too well – is not something that can always be battled and defeated. Perhaps he also knows, more than most, though, that time can bring a kind of healing.