In 2018, I wrote my first “preulogy,” a eulogy for a living friend. Why? Because why wouldn’t we tell our people how we feel about them now? Why not eulogize the living?


I wrote five preulogies. I’m remembering these today because my younger daughter flew in from Chicago for a couple of days to see mom.

“I thought I said goodbye in December, but I need to come back.”

My daughter brought the eulogy she wrote for mom with her.

“I want to read it to her.”

I know some of you might recoil “Ew!” but my heart swells with “Yes! This is what we do!”

Our discomfort with the notion of reading someone’s eulogy to them before they die is part of our uneasiness around death and dying.

Let’s dispel some of that disquiet.

Eulogize Now

Eulogies are filled with fond memories, funny anecdotes, joyful shared moments, and many this-is-why-you’re-special stories that we don’t always offer the eulogized before they die. Why not let them know while they’re alive? And look it up. You can use how-to-write-a-eulogy instructions for composing a note to a friend to share your heart now!

The notion that a eulogy is a lot and a little too late is the reason I wrote preulogies for my friends. I wanted them to know now.

My daughter made me proud when she told me she wants to share her thoughts with mom now, not just after she’s gone. I’m thankful that my mom will witness those words and that maybe she’ll understand how much she means to us.

Shine a Light on the Light

Although I’m glad I did it, writing preulogies is daunting. It requires entering that dark place of losing someone you love, of sifting through your shared history as if it were lost in order to find the golden nuggets, to retrieve the light they brought to your life.

You don’t have to write a eulogy to the living to let your family and friends know what they mean to you. Consider writing a letter or a card. Send it the old fashioned way, because what a thrill to find “real” mail in the bundle of junk and bills.

In 2020 I began a #spreadlight postcard campaign. Person-by-person, I’m sending a postcard to inner and out circles, letting them know what they mean to me. Some cards never arrive, some arrive damaged, but I trust the Divine to deliver the ones that are needed now. My goal is to circle back through my list so that eventually everyone I can reach will receive a short message thanking them for the light they bring to my life.

Spread the Light

What’s special about each person in your life? Write it down. Share it. Spread that love and light.

It’s beautiful to share the loving thoughts and memories at a memorial service, but don’t save them all for that day. Take opportunities now to share them now.

I’m grateful my daughter thought to fly home one more time for this, to tell mom why she’s special, to remind her of the light she brings to our lives, a light that will shine for years to come.

I plan to do the same.

Mom’s not gone. Her light is dimming but it’s not out. She knows she’s dying. We know it. But we still have time to tell her what she means to us. Like my postcards, not every message will reach its destination. Some thoughts might not penetrate her aids and drums, some might be crushed or damaged by the Alzheimer’s bull during delivery. So what if delivery is not guaranteed? Spreading light to those who bring it is worth the effort.

©Pennie Nichols. All Rights Reserved. 2022