Emma Heming Willis, the wife of Bruce Willis, said the actor’s 68th birthday celebrations caused her to feel “grief and sadness” amid his dementia diagnosis.
In an emotional video posted to Instagram on Sunday, Heming Willis, 44, said she “started the morning by crying.”
“I think it’s important that you see all sides of this,” she told her followers, referring to the struggles of dealing with Willis’ frontotemporal dementia (FTD).
In February, Willis’ family shared an update that the actor’s aphasia has progressed into FTD, a condition that often strikes younger patients than other forms of dementia. Symptoms include difficulty with speech and movement and gradual memory loss.
Heming Willis said people always call her “strong” for supporting her husband.
“I’m not given a choice,” she insisted. “I wish I was.”
She continued: “But I’m also raising two kids in this, so sometimes in our lives we have to put our big girl panties on and get to it, and that’s what I’m doing.”
Willis and Heming Willis share two daughters, 10 and eight years old. Willis also has three other daughters with ex-wife Demi Moore.
Heming Willis said she experiences “times of sadness” and “grief” every day, but they were especially strong on Willis’ birthday.
She grew teary eyed as she spoke about editing another Instagram post that included several clips of Willis and his family over the years. Heming Willis called the videos “a knife in my heart.”
Alongside the video, also posted Sunday, Heming Willis wrote: “My birthday wish for Bruce is that you continue to keep him in your prayers and highest vibrations because his sensitive Pisces soul will feel it. Thank you so much for loving and caring for him too.”
Willis’ ex-wife Moore, 60, also shared a video, this one from Willis’ birthday party. In the video, Willis, who is missing a tooth, is seen blowing out his birthday candles atop a pie.
“Right at it!” Willis declared, stumbling slightly. Thrice his family chanted “Hip-hip-hooray!” before they embraced Willis.
Willis retired from acting in March 2022. At the time, his family said he was “experiencing some health issues … which are impacting his cognitive abilities.”
According to the Alzheimer Society of Canada, FTD is an umbrella term for a group of rare disorders that most often affect the parts of the brain associated with personality and behaviour. Approximately five to 10 per cent of all diagnosed dementia cases are FTD, but the condition accounts for about 20 per cent of all young onset dementia cases diagnosed in people under 65.
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