Bruce Willis’s Wife, Emma, Shares How They Find Joy After His Dementia Diagnosis

bruce willis and emma heming willis
Bruce Willis’s Wife Talks Joy Amid His DiagnosisTheo Wargo - Getty Images
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Bruce Willis’s family is continuing to cherish moments big and small in the aftermath of his devastating dementia diagnosis.

Bruce’s family—his wife, Emma Heming Willis, and their two children, Mabel and Evelyn, plus his ex-wife, actress Demi Moore, and their children, Rumer, Scout, and Tallulah—have been sharing glimpses into their time with Bruce ever since he was first diagnosed with aphasia, a brain condition that affects communication. Less than a year later, Willis was officially diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia (FTD).

In her latest update, Emma is pushing back on people’s beliefs that Bruce is no longer experiencing joy because of his dementia. She shared two videos on Instagram that explained how she saw a headline claiming “there is no more joy” for Bruce—and in reality, Emma says, that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Emma went on to share that receiving a diagnosis like Bruce’s isn’t the end. It’s simply the start of a new chapter. “And that chapter is filled,” she says. “It’s filled with love. It’s filled with connection. It’s filled with joy. It’s filled with happiness.” Watch part one and part two of Emma’s videos to hear more about her experience being a caretaker.

Back in November, Bruce’s daughter Tallulah went on The Drew Barrymore Show and shared some updates about Bruce and their family. She confirmed that Bruce is maintaining aspects of who he is. “He is the same, which, I think, in this regard I’ve learned is the best thing you can ask for. I see love when I’m with him, and it’s my dad and he loves me,” Tallulah said.

She’s also spending a lot of time looking through her dad’s belongings. “A really beautiful way for me to heal through this is becoming like an archaeologist to my dad’s stuff—his world, his little trinkets and doodads,” she told Barrymore. “Being able to look through those photos...he’s my age living in Hell’s Kitchen, and he’s a total goofball. He’s an absurd person, and I’m an absurd person. And so there’s a wonderful kind of line of connection.”

Watch the entire interview here, or below.

A few months before this interview, Tallulah shared some more insight into her current relationship with her dad. In a May 2023 interview with Vogue, she clarified that, thankfully, her father’s condition hadn’t yet had much effect on his mobility. In fact, she said Bruce still very much “lights up” whenever she enters the room. FTD primarily affects speech and the ability to process language—as opposed to Alzheimer’s, which has more of an effect on memory loss in its earlier stages—so there’s a chance, she says, that he may always recognize her and their family.

She also painted a loving picture of their day-to-day lives. Their house is constantly filled with music—and Bruce especially loves the oldies, like Nina Simone and the Coasters. “I keep flipping between the present and the past when I talk about Bruce: he is, he was, he is, he was,” she writes. “That’s because I have hopes for my father that I’m so reluctant to let go of.”

But Tallulah also confessed that she had noticed something was wrong for a long time. Now, and because of this, she sees herself as being like an archaeologist when it comes to her father. “I find that I’m trying to document,” she notes, “to build a record for the day when he isn’t there to remind me of him and us.”

In September, Emma went on the Today show to share a few updates. “What I’m learning is that dementia is hard,” she said when Hoda Kotb asked about how she’s been processing. “It’s hard on the person diagnosed; it’s also hard on the family, and that is no different for Bruce or myself or our girls. And when they say that this is a family disease, it really is.”

A normally camera-shy person, Emma explained that the interview was out of her comfort zone—but that bringing awareness to the disease was too important. That’s why she’s been open and honest with her kids about what’s happening, too: “It was important that we let them know what it is because I don’t want there to be any stigma or shame attached to their dad’s diagnosis or for any form of dementia.”

She also explained that it’s “hard to know” whether Bruce understands his diagnosis. But regardless, she’s taking the time to recognize positive moments. “There’s so many beautiful things happening in our lives. It’s just really important for me to look up from the grief and the sadness so that I can see what is happening around us. Bruce would really want us to be in the joy of what is,” she said, noting that the whole family was watching and rooting her on during the Today segment.

“He is the gift that keeps on giving,” she said of Bruce. “[He’s teaching me] love, patience, resilience.” Watch the interview here.

Another glimmer that is undoubtedly bringing Emma and the Willis clan some happiness is a recent addition to the family. In April 2023, Rumer gave birth to her first child, Louetta. Rumer shared some moving images from Lou’s home birth—her mother and sisters were present, and the blended family’s love was apparent even in the Instagram comments (Emma wrote a sweet “OMG we love her so so much”).

Last year, Emma wished Bruce a happy Father’s Day, calling him the “greatest dad [she] knows.” Demi shared a photo of Bruce with their three daughters way back in the day, saying how much they love their “#girldad,” and Scout posted a couple photos with Bruce and called out how lucky she feels to have such love in her life.

The fam also shared several birthday posts for Bruce’s 68th back in March 2023. He gathered with his nearest and dearest to mark the occasion (with pie, of course). Demi posted photos of the celebration on her Instagram, as well as a sweet video of the group singing “Happy Birthday” to Bruce before he blew out candles. Tallulah also shared some photos of her dad throughout the years, calling him her “numero uno Bruno” in the caption.

When Bruce’s family announced his dementia diagnosis in February 2023, they shared a full statement on the website for the Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration. In it, the family wrote that speaking up was always an important trait to him. “Bruce always believed in using his voice in the world to help others, and to raise awareness about important issues both publicly and privately,” the statement says. “We know in our hearts that—if he could today—he would want to respond by bringing global attention and a connectedness with those who are also dealing with this debilitating disease and how it impacts so many individuals and their families.”

The statement ended with a few sentiments. “Bruce has always found joy in life—and has helped everyone he knows to do the same. It has meant the world to see that sense of care echoed back to him and to all of us. We have been so moved by the love you have all shared for our dear husband, father, and friend during this difficult time. Your continued compassion, understanding, and respect will enable us to help Bruce live as full a life as possible.”

We’re keeping the entire Willis family in our thoughts during this difficult time.

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