‘Goodnight, My Love’: Robin Williams’ Last Words To His Wife Before He Died

Dec 26, 2019

Tears of laughter suddenly became tears of sadness the day America lost one of the most brilliant comedians and actors to ever live. When Robin Williams committed suicide in 2014, many people, including his wife, assumed depression was to blame. We’ve since learned there was much more to this heartbreaking loss.

Susan Schneider Williams initially released a statement in hope that the focus would be on the laughs and joy he brought to millions while he was alive, not his death. Today, that focus is on bringing awareness to the culprit behind her husband’s death.

It would be October of 2015 before Susan would give her first interview. In that ABC interview, she offered an emotional account of what really killed Robin Williams and her last moments with him.

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The circumstances have turned out to go far beyond a singular facet of depression. No one, including Williams himself, knew the name for the neurological issues going on inside his brain.

In 2016, Susan authored a special editorial, titled The Terrorist Inside My Husband’s Brain. Her hope was that it would make a difference in the world of brain disease. It’s now been over five years since Williams died, and Susan has offered us all a more complete picture of the how and why and agony that led up to his final scene in life.

Williams had been struggling with a number of symptoms in the year before his death. Symptoms like urinary difficulties, stress, heartburn, stomach pain, insomnia, and a left-hand tremor that came and went and varied in intensity. These combined with skyrocketing fear, delusions, and anxiety caused her to occasionally wonder if he was a hypochondriac.

What followed was testing and more testing, all of which were negative. Psychotherapy and antipsychotic medications were given as treatment, but his neurological symptoms worsened, not improved, according to Susan's article in Neurology.

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During filming of Night at the Museum 3, Williams struggled to remember lines and couldn’t control his anxiety. Susan described how Williams was simply unable to believe her as she tried to reassure him, which was a first in their seven-year relationship. The two shared a marriage she described as “the best love she ever dreamed of.”

She says Williams would say he just wanted his brain “rebooted.” He was aware that he was losing his mind. He felt it, but he was powerless to stop it.

Doctors performed every testing imaginable. but it all came back negative. His cortisol levels were the only abnormality. About three months prior to his death, Williams was finally diagnosed with Parkinson disease. As Susan would later learn, this diagnosis was just the tip of the iceberg, Susan's article continues.

Over the next three months, Robin dedicated himself to Parkinson treatment with various therapies and workouts recommended by leading specialists in the field. His symptoms weren’t alleviated, though.

Susan described the rollercoaster of Williams being his normal brilliant, witty self one minute only to be in an utter state of frozen confusion the next. His basic reasoning and functioning were steadily declining. He was tired, and both husband and wife felt like they were drowning in symptoms.

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The weekend before Williams died, Susan was hopeful. They’d enjoyed a beautiful Saturday doing all of their favorite things. Sunday evening ended with an exchange of “Goodnight, my love” before bed. Susan never imagined that would be their last words, Susan's article states.

It would be three months before Susan would learn the why from an autopsy report. Williams experienced all of the 40-plus symptoms of Lewy Body Dementia (LBD.) The disease is the second most common cause of dementia behind Alzheimer’s disease. William’s ‘diffusion,’ or severity, of LBD was identified as one of the worst on record.

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While Susan feels William’s medical team was close to an LBD diagnosis, she wonders what difference it would’ve made for Williams. After all, it’s incurable, he had maybe three more months to live, and that time would’ve likely had to be under supervised care. Would it have just prolonged and intensified what was already an unbearable agony?

Susan is focused on learning everything there is to know and do about LBD. It’s a journey that’s shifted her from a widow to an advocate and landed her on the Board of Directors for the American Brain Foundation. Her hope is that meaningful action toward brain disease and cures can come from sharing their gut-wrenching journey.

Have you heard of LBD or been touched by the plight of brain disease? Tell us your stories and thoughts in the comment section, and don’t forget to pass this story along to others to help in Susan’s advocacy and awareness efforts.

f you or anybody you know is struggling with depression or suicidal thoughts, please call Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. The Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals.