Editor’s Note: One of the most caring things you can do is to prepare meals when a friend has an extended illness. We’ve always thought the website Take Them a Meal is a brilliant way to coordinate that act of caring with friends from across your community. We found the story below on the Take Them a Meal website. It’s a powerful demonstration of how to care well for someone with a terminal illness.

Kim Smith was a precious friend to many local users of TakeThemAMeal.com. Sadly, Kim died in 2012 from breast cancer. A friend from Kim’s church, Bonnie Carr, created a loving way for friends and family members to show their care to Kim before she died. Those of us at TakeThemAMeal.com adored this idea from the first time Bonnie shared it with us, and we want to share it with you.

Kim's Promising Box

“I would be very happy for you to share it. It has been meaningful. Since some of the promises won’t take place for years, we will see how well folks remember. I know it would be tough for me to remember something that long. But I appreciate all that people have done for us and the love they showed Kim.”
-Calvin Smith, Kim’s husband

When Kim was dying from breast cancer, a friend from Kim’s church, Bonnie Carr, created a loving way for friends and family members to show their care to Kim before she died.  She created a “Promising Box” for Kim.

How do you create a “Promising Box”?

When your friend still has life to live, but you know her days on earth are drawing to a close, it’s a struggle to know how to say good bye. One meaningful gift you can offer your friend is that you will stay connected to her family and remind them of her love. In Kim’s case, she was saying goodbye not only to her precious husband, but two sweet boys, and she had a strong desire for her family to always know HER LOVE for them.

To create a Promising Box for your friend, invite all the people who love your friend to send you a written “promise” of how they will care for her family at a future date. Compile the letters you receive in a decorative box to give them to your friend. Kim’s family, friends and loved ones wrote letters expressing how they would care for her family in the coming years. Calvin read the messages to Kim in the weeks before she died and the Promising Box continues to be a treasure for their family.

What are the Promises included in the letters?

The promises are things you can do to keep your friend’s love for her family alive as the years pass. In writing, you can promise to be part of a future moment in the life of your friend’s family. Below are some examples of promises that can be made:

  • Promise that you will give her children a special key ring from her when they first learn to drive.
  • Promise to pray for the children on the first day of school each year.
  • Promise that you will buy a corsage for each child when they have their first formal date.
  • Promise to take your friend’s husband his favorite home cooked meal on his birthday.
  • Promise to give a handmade blanket to each grandchild.

Your memories of meaningful moments with your friend will certainly give you “promise” ideas, so her love can be part of future moments in the life of her family. Even with faith, saying goodbye to our friends and loved ones who are terminally ill is difficult. It’s even harder for our ill friends to know they are slowly saying good bye to a family they deeply love. Compiling letters from family and friends that are full of promises is a precious gift that gives present comfort to your friend and future comfort to her family.

For more reading and resources, please visit our Being a Friend to the Terminally Ill page.

Karen Mulder

Karen Mulder

Karen Mulder is the founder of the Wisdom of the Wounded ministry. She lives in Holland, Michigan with her husband Larry.


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