A once-in-a-generation action hero, Bruce Willis has spent his Hollywood career starring in both blockbuster hits and auteur dramas. But earlier this year, the Die Hard star’s family shared a shocking announcement:
After being diagnosed with a neurological disorder known as aphasia, Willis planned to give up acting for good. Since then, wife Emma Heming Willis, ex-wife Demi Moore, and Willis’s three eldest daughters have rallied around him in a show of public support on social media. Read on to hear the heartbreaking reflection Heming Willis shared most recently on life after her husband’s diagnosis.
In Mar. 2022, Willis’ family announced that the actor had been diagnosed with aphasia and would retire from his acting career after over 40 years in the Hollywood spotlight. “To Bruce’s amazing supporters, as a family we wanted to share that our beloved Bruce has been experiencing some health issues and has recently been diagnosed with aphasia, which is impacting his cognitive abilities,” said a joint statement written together by his blended family. “As a result of this and with much consideration Bruce is stepping away from the career that has meant so much to him.”
“This is a really challenging time for our family and we are so appreciative of your continued love, compassion and support,” they shared via social media. “We are moving through this as a strong family unit, and wanted to bring his fans in because we know how much he means to you, as you do to him.”
Aphasia is a cognitive language disorder that affects one’s comprehension and communication. Every year, doctors diagnose roughly 180,000 new cases of aphasia, totaling one million cases in the U.S., says the National Aphasia Association (NAA).
Though sometimes aphasia occurs as the result of a progressive neurological disorder such as Alzheimer’s disease or a brain tumor, it often occurs suddenly, following a stroke or head injury that impacts the regions of the brain responsible for language. Individuals with aphasia tend to have difficulty with speaking, reading, writing, and processing language, but the NAA notes that the condition does not affect intelligence.
In March, former co-workers of Willis shared with The Los Angeles Times that they had witnessed signs of his condition on set for years before the diagnosis was publicly announced.
Heming Willis has since opened up about how she copes with her husband’s diagnosis while parenting the couple’s two young daughters, Mabel Willis (10) and Evelyn Willis (8). She acknowledged that focusing on her family so intensely had “taken a toll” on her “mental health and overall health.”
“I put my family’s needs above my own, which I found does not make me any kind of hero,” she said in May while speaking with The Bump. “Someone told me not long ago that when you over-care for someone, you end up under-caring for yourself. That stopped me in my tracks and really resonated with me. I don’t mother myself perfectly but I know that I have some basic baseline needs that are a must, like first and foremost, exercise,” she explained.
On Aug. 30, Heming Willis took to Instagram to share a touching personal update for National Grief Awareness Day. “This was the summer of self discovery—finding new hobbies, going out of my comfort zone and staying active,” she wrote alongside a video montage of the model doing various activities in her home and garden.
“My grief can be paralyzing but I’m learning how to live alongside it,” she continued, adding words of wisdom that her stepdaughter, Scout LaRue Willis, shared with her: “Grief is the deepest and purest form of love. I hope you find some comfort in that too.”