In March of last year Bruce Willis’ family shared he was retiring from acting due to his diagnosis of aphasia, a neurological condition. Then earlier this year, the Willis clan updated his fans that his condition had progressed to frontotemporal dementia. With both announcements it was notable that the statements were from the family, not directly from Bruce. It wasn’t entirely surprising, given that both aphasia and FTD have symptoms of speech and communication difficulties, as well as potential emotional instability and loss of motor skills. The fact that Bruce wasn’t speaking for himself seemed to indicate the extent to which he was already dependent on caretaking.
Throughout his diagnosis (which likely began long before it was made public), his chief caretaker has been his wife of 14 years, Emma Heming. In an Instagram post on Monday, Emma briefly yet impactfully shared that she’s “not good,” but making a daily choice to break up the doom and gloom outlook that befalls caretakers. More on what Emma called her care partner PSA:
Bruce Willis’ wife, Emma Hemming Willis, is providing an update on how she’s doing amid her husband’s current health situation.
The former model has served as the actor’s caregiver since his frontotemporal dementia diagnosis, which was publicly revealed by his family in February.
In a new Instagram video, the Make Time Wellness founder tearfully sent a message to fellow “care partners,” letting it be known that although she may look like she’s handling it all well, it’s nowhere near easy.
The 45-year-old started the clip by addressing why it is she previously asked people in a position similar to hers to send her photos of “something beautiful,” which, she noted, are making her “so happy.”
“I just think it’s so important for us to sort of break up our thinking, which can feel, for me, very much like doom and gloom,” she admitted.
“I know it looks like I’m out living my best life. I have to make a conscious effort every single day to live the best life that I can,” she said, adding that it’s not only for herself, but for her and the Red star’s two children, and for “Bruce, who would not want me to live any other way.”
She furthered her transparent message by explaining, “I don’t want it to be misconstrued that I’m good, because I’m not. I’m not good, but I have to put my best foot forward for the sake of myself and my family.”
The pair wed in 2009, later welcoming daughters Mabel Ray, 11, and Evelyn Penn, 9.
In the caption of the August 14 social media post, the Malta-born entrepreneur made her intentions for the update clear.
“This is a care partner PSA. My message is simple. When we are not looking after ourselves, we are no good to the people we love who we want to show up for and take care of,” she wrote in the caption of the upload.
Heming Willis continued: “I don’t have this down to a fine-science either, but I try. It’s an affirmation I use daily so it’s kept in the forefront of my mind. Your pictures, words of support and love for me and my family were felt. Honestly, thank you, it helps. I ask that you’ll consider to keep looking for that one beautiful thing or moment in your day. And I hope you can take me seriously in my dopey hat.”
Bitches, this one really hit me in the gut. I’ve shared a little bit here on watching my mother be caretaker for my father after his stroke. She’s been on duty full time since he came home from the hospital and rehab four months ago. Last week he had to go back to the hospital. As awful as it may sound, my initial thought was of relief for my mother. Without meaning any disrespect towards my father—or Bruce, or any ill person—I have been much more worried about my mother throughout this whole period. I think of it as every emotion, everywhere, all at once. There’s heartbreak in seeing your partner in pain, fading away, and losing their dignity. There’s also, equally justified, anger and resentment with the situation (even sometimes directed at the ill partner). That in turn is often followed by guilt, playing out in an endless vicious cycle. I’ve seen all this in my mother over the past nine months. It’s just so much to bear.
Out of everything in the post, I appreciate most that Emma honestly says she is “not good.” She has two young daughters who are witnessing the decline of their father. I bet Emma is concerned everyday about how they are processing this moment. How much do you let them spend all the time they can with their father, versus how much do you try to protect them in their childhood?
I think she’s doing a mitzvah by reaching out like this to fellow care partners. It is so easy to get stuck in doom and gloom, and in my experience it’s usually an outside stimulus that helps me let go of the negative loop. Whether it’s sharing beautiful photos like Emma requested, sharing stories, or sharing an adorably dopey hat, it’s the connecting itself that helps. Sending my very best thoughts to Emma, Bruce, and their family.
Photos credit: CPA, PacificCoastNews / Avalon, Media Punch/INSTARimages.com, Media Punch/INSTARimages.com, Getty and via Instagraam