This Thanksgiving was an emotional one for the Willis family. Over the holiday weekend, Bruce Willis’ daughter Scout posted a touching video on Instagram showing her and her famous father — who’s battling frontotemporal dementia, an untreatable brain disorder that impairs speech and motor skills — holding hands at a table, as well as a photo of her cradling his palm to her face.
Bruce’s wife, Emma, also posted a throwback photo of the extended family, including their daughters Mabel and Evelyn, the actor’s ex-wife, Demi Moore, and his older daughters, Rumer, Scout and Tallulah, writing, “I’m grateful and thankful to know this kind of love.”
It’s a bittersweet time for Bruce’s loved ones. The family announced in March 2022 that the Die Hard star, 68, had been battling aphasia, a language disorder that affects a person’s abilities to communicate. Then, this past February, they revealed his condition had progressed, and he’d been diagnosed with FTD. According to the National Institutes of Health, the typical life expectancy for those living with the illness is just six to eight years, but some medical sources put it as low as two years.
Ever since, Emma, 45, Demi, 61, Rumer, 35, Scout, 32, and Tallulah, 29, have been rallying around him 24/7 alongside Mabel, 11, and Evelyn, 9. “Bruce has good days and bad days, but in the last two months, there are many more bad days than good,” says a source. “This experience has brought the whole family even closer together. No one knows how much time Bruce has left, so they’re soaking up every moment they get with him.”
According to a second source, the entire family is essentially living under one roof. “They’re all there all the time,” says the source. “Once Bruce was diagnosed, everyone came together to keep his memory of the family intact and to be there as a constant reminder [that they] love him. [Everything] revolves around him.” Adds the first source: “Bruce has around-the-clock care, but at least one family member is always with him.”
Rumer, who’s always been very close with her dad, often brings 8-month-old daughter Louetta over to spend time with her grandfather. “Rumer wants to make sure Louetta knows [Bruce],” says the second source. “She wants him to be actively involved in Louetta’s life. It’s a very special bond.”
On Father’s Day, she posted a photo of Bruce holding her baby girl on Instagram, writing, “Papa I’m so lucky to have you and so is Lou.” Adds the second source: “Rumer and her sisters love their dad so much. They are very conscious that any day could be his last.”
Bruce is doing as well as can be expected given the severity of his diagnosis. “He is declining, but he’s in great hands and has his family and close friends supporting him. Plus, the health care he receives is impeccable,” says the second source, noting that the Pulp Fiction star “is still mostly there and present when he’s mentally and physically able.”
Since Bruce’s diagnosis, family members have been open about their struggles. Over the summer, Emma posted a candid message on social media about the toll caregiving takes, writing, “I know it looks like I’m out living my best life. I have to make a conscious effort every single day…. I do that for myself, I do that for our two children, and Bruce, who would not want me to live any other way.” Speaking on the Today show in September, she admitted that “dementia is hard. It’s hard on the person diagnosed; it’s also hard on the family,” adding that it was difficult to know if Bruce was aware of his condition.
Tallulah also offered fans an update on Bruce on the November 8 episode of The Drew Barrymore Show, sharing that they still enjoy listening to old rock and roll together. “He is the same, which I think in this regard I’ve learned is the best thing you can ask for,” she told Barrymore. “I see love when I’m with him, and it’s my dad, and he loves me, which is really special.”
This holiday season is about making new memories together — and celebrating old ones. “The focus is on Bruce being around the people he loves and reminding him of happy holidays from the past,” says a third source. “Bruce still appreciates the holiday season and loves having his whole family under one roof for music, meals and old home movies.” The first source says Rumer, Scout and Tallulah have been showing their dad childhood photos and nostalgic items to try and brighten his mood, which “does work on occasion.”
Moore is a big part of the festivities. The third source says the Ghost star’s “famous organizing skills” complement Emma’s calm demeanor. “Sadly, there’s this ticking clock connected to Bruce’s condition,” adds the source, “but the whole family treasures their time together, and Demi is the facilitator of that.”
The first source says the blended crew has a renewed sense of togetherness, and are even thinking of starting a foundation in Bruce’s name: “They were always a family that would give back together. But now they have new ideas of how to help.”
The challenging moments are worth it. “When Bruce is around his kids, it can sometimes be easy to forget that there’s anything wrong with him,” says the source. “The smiles and funny faces and laughs come easy. He jokes around in his ‘funny dad’ way. There’s a part of him that will always be a big kid at heart.”
Adds the second source: “Everyone has come together for Bruce. They’re thankful they have each other.”