Bruce Willis’ Wife Fights Tears in Message Thanking Fans on Actor’s Birthday

·3 min read
Fred Prouser/Reuters
Fred Prouser/Reuters

As Bruce Willis’ family marked the occasion of his 68th birthday on Sunday, the actor’s wife took to social media to share a heartfelt tribute to him—and open up about the reality of caring for a loved one with frontotemporal dementia.

“I have started the morning by crying as you can see by my swollen eyes and snotty nose,” Emma Heming Willis said in an Instagram Reel. “I just think it’s important that you see all sides of this.”

“I always get this message where people always tell me, ‘Oh you’re so strong. I don’t know how you do it,’” the 44-year-old continued. “I’m not given a choice. I wish I was but I’m also raising two kids in this,” referencing the couple’s two young children, Mabel, 10, and Evelyn, 8.

“Sometimes in our lives, we have to put our big girl panties on and get to it. And that’s what I’m doing," she said. “But I do have times of sadness, every day, grief every day, and I’m really feeling it today on his birthday.”

Heming Willis said that she was putting together another Reel for Willis’ birthday, adding that spooling through the videos was “like a knife in my heart,” but was determined to get through it. “As much as I do it for myself I do it for you because I know how much you love my husband,” she said, before telling herself, “Don’t cry, Emma.”

In her caption, Heming Willis expressed gratitude to the family’s supporters and her husband’s fans, saying that “the silver lining or the flip side is that I’m so lucky to feel your warmth and love… I see your messages, your stories that you share, and all I can say is thank you.”

Several hours later, she posted a compilation Reel showing Willis before his health struggles ended his acting career, a battle first made public last March. Initially thought to be suffering from aphasia, a rare cognitive disorder that affects communication, Willis was eventually diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia in February. “While this is painful, it is a relief to finally have a clear diagnosis,” the family said in a statement.

Less than three weeks later, Heming Willis made a public appeal to paparazzi to stop shouting and crowding her husband when he was out in public. “The woo-hooing and the yippee-ki-yay’s—just don’t do it,” she said on Instagram. “Give him the space. Allow for our family or whoever’s with him that day to be able to get him from Point A to Point B safely. That’s my PSA.”

The actor’s other loved ones rallied around him on Sunday as well, with Demi Moore—who was married to Willis from 1987 to 2000—sharing her own Instagram tribute. She posted a home video, apparently taken earlier that same day, of a delighted-looking Willis being sung “Happy Birthday” by his family, including Heming Willis.

“Happy birthday, BW! So glad we could celebrate you today,” Moore captioned the video. “Love you and love our family. Thank you to everyone for the love and warm wishes—we all feel them.”

Moore and Willis, who remained on good terms after the end of their 13-year marriage, share three daughters, including Scout Willis. The 31-year-old noted her mixed emotions in her own Sunday post marking her father’s birthday.

“What a privilege to have this man as my father and learn so much about life, joy, mischief and art through him,” she wrote next to a photo of herself being carried on his shoulders as a little girl.

“Today is not necessarily an easy day, because it’s a day full of so deep love, and our grief really does show us the depth of our loving for someone. So I’m trying to be with both today.”

“Grief is a price I’ll always pay to know what it is to feel such love,” she added.

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