Sunday, January 11, 2009

Famous people lose children too

Actor John Travolta is the latest of famous people to lose a child, his son Jett. The rich and famous are not immuned to this devastation. Actress Mary Tyler Moore, TV star Carroll O’Connor, Senator John Edwards, President John Kennedy, comedian Bill Cosby, and historical figures such as Abraham Lincoln and Mark Twain, just to name a few, have all suffered the loss of a child. There are times when all the money and fame in the world can not keep us safe from something like a car accident, an unwelcomed illness, suicide, murder or a drug overdose. Their loss is as great as ours, but they are just more in the spotlight.

The only people who understand the pain that the Travolta’s are going through are parents who have also lost children. Even though some people say they know how you are feeling because they lost a cat or a mother, they have no clue as to what this is all about unless they too have suffered a child’s death.

My front page book endorsement from Stephen Cannell, famous author and TV playwright, told me about losing his teenage son many years ago in a freak beach accident when the castle he was building out of sand collapsed on top of him, suffocating him. Author Danielle Steel, who also endorsed my book, lost one of her nine children to suicide and never saw it coming. A friend of mine lost three children, all to car accidents, one year after the other; he is now childless.

Whether the child was an only child or one of many makes no difference in the intensity of the loss. We love all our children and don’t want anything to happen to any of them. And when it does, it is devastating.

The death of a child is the most painful experience you can ever go through. Children are not supposed to die before the parents. It is not the natural order of things, and so when it happens, we are thrown helter-skelter into a different life, one we wish we didn’t have to go through.

We all feel for the Travolta’s as we do any parent who loses a child. We’d like to help in some way. But there is nothing we can say or do that will make it all go away. The best advice I can give to family members and friends is to just listen. Let the parent talk about their child. Hold their hand. If you want to, cry with them. Fix a meal. Go shopping for them. Invite them out when they are feeling a little better. Show that you care. It’s what you do, not what you say, that’s important.

The pain will never leave these parents, but it will get softer with time. Time is a great healer as the Travolta’s will discover moving through their grief. I, along with many others, wish them the best.


  1. "We all go through life, wanting tomorrow, "dying to life" Once your child dies, so do your dreams, you are "living to die" so, stop chasing your dreams, because the life you are in right this second, are your dreams tomorrow! We miss you more than words can say "Tessa" 1991-2007 "Mills"

  2. I lost my little boy to transposition of the great arteries just 26 days after he was born. He had had surgery. I guess it didnt take. He was my first after more than 3 miscarriages. We miss you Ryan. 11/01/10 - 11/27/10

  3. My son, age 23, took his own life on November 4, 2010. I have been reeling ever since; trying to get a new foothold. I look everyday for some understanding for this tragedy. Your blog helped to get this Sunday started. I look for others who might understand, but at the same time I am sad that others have had to feel this incredible pain.

  4. MY heart goes out to you all. I too am a father that has suffered the passing of a child. My son Marky passed away in 2005 at age 18. I have since found hope and healing in offering love and kindness to others that have walked this walk. My book: A Child Died, a Father Cried and God Answered is free as an eBook to all here mark1986 is the free eBook download code. my link is Prayers lifted for you all.

  5. Please check out
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