Robin Williams’ children Zak and Zelda pay tribute to the late actor

‘I deeply miss you you wonderful, hairy man’: Robin Williams’ children Zak and Zelda pay tribute to the late actor on the eighth anniversary of his death

  • Robin Williams’ son Zak shared a funny tribute to his father on Thursday
  • That would have been the Oscar-winning actor’s 71st birthday
  • The Good Will Hunting actor passed away in 2014 at age 63, by suicide  
  • His autopsy revealed undiagnosed Lewy body disease
  • ‘Happy 71st Birthday Dad! I’ll be remembering you today as you would want to be remembered, in spandex,’ shared Zak
  • ‘Miss you and love you always!’ wrote his son on Instagram
  • Zak posted a photo of the comedian on a bicycle while in his cycle clothing 

Robin Williams’ children Zak and Zelda have shared emotional social media tributes to their late father on the eighth anniversary of his death.

The actor, who died aged 63, was membered by his son Zak, 39, who shared an old photograph of him and hailed the ‘wonderful, hairy man’.

The Good Will Hunting actor passed away in 2014, by suicide at his home in Paradise Cay, California. His autopsy revealed undiagnosed Lewy body disease, which is a form of progressive dementia.

In tribute: Robin Williams' children Zak and Zelda have shared emotional social media tributes to their late father on the eighth anniversary of his death

In tribute: Robin Williams’ children Zak and Zelda have shared emotional social media tributes to their late father on the eighth anniversary of his death

On Thursday, Zak tweeted: ‘Dad, on the eighth anniversary of your passing, I’m remembering how incredibly kind and joyful you were.

‘I deeply miss you you wonderful, hairy man and will be celebrating your life today. Love you so so much!’

Also honouring her father, Zelda, 33, shared a quote from writer Haruki Murakami, which appeared related to suicide prevention.

Tragic: The Good Will Hunting actor passed away in 2014, by suicide at his home in Paradise Cay, Californi a. His autopsy revealed undiagnosed Lewy body disease, which is a form of progressive dementia (pictured 2006)

Tragic: The Good Will Hunting actor passed away in 2014, by suicide at his home in Paradise Cay, Californi a. His autopsy revealed undiagnosed Lewy body disease, which is a form of progressive dementia (pictured 2006)

It read: ‘And once the storm is over, you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, whether the storm is really over.

‘But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in.’

She also shared a thread of suicide prevent resources and hotlines and requested her followers to add more if they knew of any.

Special: Also honouring her father, Zelda, 33, shared a quote from writer Haruki Murakami, which appeared related to suicide prevention

Special: Also honouring her father, Zelda, 33, shared a quote from writer Haruki Murakami, which appeared related to suicide prevention

Zelda added: ‘I don’t ask for much, but if I may, be gentle to your hearts today. I know I’m trying.’

On the anniversary last year, Zelda also shared a Murakami quote, which read: ‘Sometimes when I look at you, I feel I’m gazing at a distant star.

‘It’s dazzling, but the light is from tens of thousands of years ago. Maybe the star doesn’t even exist any more. Yet sometimes that light seems more real to me than anything.’

Robin also had son Cody, 30, from his relationship with Valerie Velardi.

Earlier this year, Zak shared a funny tribute to his father, which would have been the actor’s 71st birthday. 

For dad: Zak shared a funny tribute to his father which would have been the actor's 71st birthday. Seen in 2012

For dad: Zak shared a funny tribute to his father which would have been the actor’s 71st birthday. Seen in 2012

‘Happy 71st Birthday Dad! I’ll be remembering you today as you would want to be remembered, in spandex. Miss you and love you always!’ wrote his son on Instagram as he posted a photo of the comedian on a bicycle.

Robin was an avid cyclist who used to ride often on the winding paths by his home in Marin County, California.

Last year Zak said his dad was ‘frustrated’ with his health struggles before he ultimately took his life.

The legendary comedian had unknowingly been misdiagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and was actually suffering from Lewy body dementia – the second most common type of progressive dementia after Alzheimer’s – his family found out after his death.

Hilarious: 'Happy 71st Birthday Dad! I'll be remembering you today as you would want to be remembered, in spandex. Miss you and love you always!' wrote his son on Instagram as he posted a photo of the comedian on a bicycle

Hilarious: ‘Happy 71st Birthday Dad! I’ll be remembering you today as you would want to be remembered, in spandex. Miss you and love you always!’ wrote his son on Instagram as he posted a photo of the comedian on a bicycle

‘What I saw was frustration,’ Zak told host Max Lugavere on his podcast The Genius Life

‘What he was going through didn’t match one to one [with what] many Parkinson’s patients experience. So, I think that was hard for him.’

Zak, who is a mental health advocate, continued: ‘There was a focus issue that frustrated him, there were issues associated with how he felt and also from a neurological perspective he didn’t feel great,’ and added: ‘He was very uncomfortable.’ 

Williams’ son also questioned the medication that his father was put on, suggesting they may have made his overall health worse.

‘Those drugs are no joke,’ he explained. ‘They’re also really hard on the mind and the body.

‘I couldn’t help but feel beyond empathy. I couldn’t help but feel frustrated for him,’ Zak continued. ‘It can be really isolating even when you’re with family and loved ones.’

Lewy body dementia causes a progressive decline in mental abilities, and those affected might have visual hallucinations and changes in alertness and attention. 

Zak also shared his experience with dealing the loss of his father, and how it impacted his mental health.

‘I was heavily drinking to manage my mental health where it created very harmful issues. For me personally, I was having health issues. I was experiencing some psychosis and when I spoke with a psychiatrist I was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder,’ he said.

Adding: ‘I was self-medicating through the trauma using alcohol.’

Zak, who is a father of two, went on to seek help in a 12-step program as well as group therapy, which helped him. 

WHAT IS LEWY BODY DEMENTIA?

Lewy body dementia (LBD) is the second most common form of degenerative dementia after Alzheimer’s.

It is the form Robin Williams was diagnosed with before he took his own life in 2014.

Unlike Alzheimer’s, LBD affects the brain regions responsible for vision – as opposed to memory.

That means sufferers may start with memory loss, but over time the more debilitating symptoms will be powerful hallucinations, nightmares and spatial-awareness problems.

LBD is closely connected to Parkinson’s disease, meaning that many sufferers will develop Parkinson’s as well – as happened to Robin Williams.

SYMPTOMS:

The most common symptoms include:

  • Impaired thinking, such as loss of executive function (planning, processing information), memory, or the ability to understand visual information.
  • Fluctuations in cognition, attention or alertness;
  • Problems with movement including tremors, stiffness, slowness and difficulty walking
  • Visual hallucinations (seeing things that are not present)
  • Sleep disorders, such as acting out one’s dreams while asleep
  • Behavioral and mood symptoms, including depression, apathy, anxiety, agitation, delusions or paranoia
  • Changes in autonomic body functions, such as blood pressure control, temperature regulation, and bladder and bowel function.

HOW IT STARTS:

Many sufferers will first develop Parkinson’s, suffering physical disabilities, before doctors diagnose their dementia. That is what happened to the late revered actor Robin Williams.

Some will start with memory loss that could be mistaken for the more common Alzheimer’s disease. Over time, they will develop symptoms more clearly associated with LBD.

WHAT CAUSES IT:

There is no known cause. What we do know is that risk increases with age.

At a cellular level, LBD is characterized by tiny clumps of abnormal proteins produced by the brain when its cells are not working properly.

They cause memory problems, although these don’t tend to be as severe as with Alzheimer’s — which is linked to a build-up of the protein beta-amyloid.

Another key difference is that Lewy body dementia affects regions of the brain responsible for vision, causing powerful hallucinations, nightmares and spatial-awareness problems.

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