Robin Williams' widow, Susan Schneider Williams, is opening up about the final years of his life alongside the release of the new documentary Robin's Wish. Tuesday, Schneider Williams opened up to Hoda Kotb on the Today show about the late actor's struggle with Lewy body dementia, which affected his thinking, memory and movement ahead of his death by suicide at 63 in August 2014.
"This was a man who was incredibly rich and deep and versed in so much about humanity and culture, and his humor was like this secret weapon," Schneider Williams said of the Oscar-winner. "There were so many times when he would see someone needed a lift, and then he would just inject a little bit of humor in just the right way to make a difference."
While Lewy body dementia is not uncommon, Schneider Williams said doctors misdiagnosed Robin, and it wasn't until after his death that his family truly understood the internal battle he was fighting. "Robin and I knew there was so much more going on," she said. Robin was right when he said to me, 'I just want to reboot my brain.' In that moment, I promised him that we would get to the bottom of this. I just didn't know that would be after he passed."
As Robin was struggling with insomnia, Schneider Williams said they were told to sleep apart for medical reasons. "He said to me, 'Does this mean we're separated?'" she recalled, of being told to sleep separately. "That was a really shocking moment. When your best friend, your partner, your love — you realize that there's a giant chasm somewhere, and you can't see where it is, but that's just not based in reality. That was a hard moment."
Schneider Williams told Entertainment Weekly that the title of the new documentary, which is now available to rent and own on-demand, refers to Robin's wish to help people be less afraid in their lives. "We had been discussing what we wanted our legacies to be in life; when it was our time to go, how we wanted to have made people feel," she recalled. "Without missing a beat, Robin said, 'I want to help people be less afraid.'"
If you or someone you know are in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741-741.