When a thank you note doesn’t feel like enough, writing a letter of gratitude can be cathartic. Not only are you offering a morale boost to the recipient, but you’re also taking a moment to give yourself a little positivity, too.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- 1. Personal Address
- 2. Introduce Yourself
- 3. Explain How You Were Helped Professionally or Personally
- 4. Describe the Results of Their Help (Professional)
- 5.Sign the Letter With Gratitude
- 6. Sign Your Name
- Gratitude Letter Examples
After all, it feels good to make someone's day brighter. Plus, when you take a moment to sit down and think about all the good and fantastic things you've experienced, and all the incredible people that have been there in your life, you're actively giving your brain a dopamine dose.
Have a look at these ideas on writing a letter of gratitude for someone who has been impactful in your life. After this, you may find yourself writing to more than your partner or grandparents and reaching out to public officials or medical professionals who’ve made your life better along the way. Who knows, once you start finding people to be grateful for, you might just have a rosier outlook on life altogether.
1. Personal Address
Be conscious of the person or people to whom you are addressing your letter. Indeed, you'll take on a much more personal tone with partners and other family members.
However, in the case of professional relationships, such as your college professor, a physician, or even a Senator or Congressperson, you'll want to use salutations appropriate to their professional title. For instance:
- My Darling Husband/Wife/Partner,
- My Dearest (Aunt or Uncle),
- Dear Sir or Madam:
- To Whom It May Concern,
- Dear Mr./Ms./Mrs./Dr./Professor (Last Name):
- Honorable Mr./Ms./Mrs. (Last Name),
In the case of a Senator or Congressperson, it’s acceptable to use Mr./Ms./Mrs. in your letter, if you’ve addressed the envelope using their title as "The Honorable (Full Name)." If that’s the case, then you’ll have already met the requirement.
2. Introduce Yourself
This next step is for more formal letters. Here, you’ll want to give a brief introduction to create a connection. For instance:
- My name is (Full Name), and I’m one of your constituents from (city or county).
- I was your ER patient on the night of (date) who was suffering from (condition).
- I was the recipient of the college scholarship for “Future Outstanding Science Scholars.”
- Our team received a grant from your foundation for (name of nonprofit organization).
- I have been a member of the (organization) that you have represented for several years.
3. Explain How You Were Helped Professionally or Personally
Often, people are very willing to let the world know when things go wrong. But here you have an opportunity to be the change, letting others know when things go well. When writing, try to keep this section within ~150 words and consider the following ideas:
- What happened?
- How were you positively impacted?
- How does this represent you or your community as a whole?
- In what ways did this provide relief or assistance?
- Were there any other struggles or adversities?
Just like professional settings, people are very willing to let the world know when things go wrong. So, here’s a chance to share love and positivity with other and more intimate connections. While professional letters should be more concise, you’ve got much more writing room in a personal letter. As such, when writing your letter, consider the following ideas:
- What is the timeframe? (A week? Month? Years?)
- Were they supportive financially or emotionally?
- How would you describe that support? Compliment them. (Were they a rock? A godsend?)
- What is the result of this compassion that they showed to you?
- How do you see this helping your future as a result of their efforts?
4. Describe the Results of Their Help
While most people choose an occupation out of drive or passion, it goes without saying that everyone needs a morale boost. That said, positive letters help everyone want to continue to do good work. So, consider the following ideas when writing your letter so that they are fully aware of their professional impact on your life. Keep this section to ~150 words as well.
- What does this do for the overall morale of you and either your family or community?
- How did this impact your life over a given time?
- To what extent do you think you’ll be able to use their help to become a better person or do great things?
- In what ways have you been able to return the kindness to others?
- How do you promote this gratitude in your daily life?
Family is always going to stick its neck out for loved ones, no matter how difficult the situation. So, their loving assistance deserves a personal, from the heart response. With that, you may want to consider the following additions to your letter, which take it from professional to close and personal.
- What were you explicitly dealing with when the loved one stepped in to help?
- How did this alleviate your struggle?
- How did they help you to grow and continue on your path?
- How do you intend on repaying their kindness to them or others?
- How do you now see the value of family and personal relationships?
5. Sign the Letter With Gratitude
This section takes a lot less thought. Just use what feels right.
Take a look at the examples we’ve found for you here:
- With Gratitude,
- Forever Grateful,
- With Immense Love,
- Kind Regards,
- Thank you so much,
6. Sign Your Name
If you are writing a professional letter, then you’ll want to maintain dignity here. Use the proper address for yourself as you would for them.
Skip the nicknames that your friends give you, and use your full legal name, leaving them a positive impression of you and your character.
Gratitude Letter Examples
Here are two examples that you can use as templates for your letter of gratitude. One is a professional letter written to a lawmaker, while the other is a personal letter written to family members.
Here’s a short example of what you might write to your state representative concerning food insecurities inside school lunch programs.
Honorable Mr./Ms./Mrs. (Last Name),
My name is (Full Name), and I am from (City or County). I am a single mother of one amazing child, who I have seen blossom because of your efforts in our neighborhood.
I am writing today to let you know that my family has been positively impacted by the new lunch program serving underrepresented and low-income families. With this provision, I’m able to breathe a sigh of relief knowing that my child will continue to be fed nutritious meals.
As you know, there’s been adversity in our local system for years, where parents have been struggling to make ends meet. By helping my child and my neighbor's children, you’re affording our children opportunities to learn and grow, one healthy meal at a time.
In my family, I’ve watched the brightness come back to my child's eyes. Their health and wellness have always been of great importance, but now I can use that money to buy them a small toy from time to time, whereas before, the money we earned was meant to keep their belly full.
I see that my child is more successful in school, they can concentrate more, and with food at every meal, my child no longer feels embarrassed or insecure during school lunchtime. Food insecurities plague many people here in (city or county). But now we can concentrate on the future without worrying today.
Mr./Ms./Mrs. (First Name and Last Name)
Here’s a short example that you might write to your aunt or uncle if they’ve been pivotal in your education.
Dear Aunt (Name) and Uncle (Name),
I wanted to take a moment to let you know how much I appreciate all of your kindness and love these last few years. When I first arrived at Grandma and Grandpa's house, I was a mess.
Not only was I distrustful of everyone and everything, but I was also incredibly hurt and angry at my parents. But with your consistent love and support, I’ve been able to see past the hurt and anger. Now, I realize that I’ve got so much to look forward to in life. And while some of the chaos will remain with me for a long time, I rest knowing that I have your wisdom on which to rely whenever I get stuck.
Thinking back to what was even possible five years ago, I can now say that there is so much for me that lays ahead. Before, I couldn't see anything more than a week away, but now I can see my life unfolding in the most extraordinary ways. Safety, security, and love were all things I lacked from a very early age, and now I can confidently say that I am accepted and loved for who I am.
Now, I’ll be taking this forward into a nursing career so that I can help people. I’ll also be using all of the lessons you taught me so that I can positively impact my friends, and eventually, my patients. And this is how I’ll continue to show others the gratitude that I’ve received from you.
With Immense Love,
Your (Niece or Nephew), (Name)
Keep a Gratitude Journal
Here’s a final hint about letters of gratitude. Keep and write in a gratitude journal every day, even for the small things.
Soon, you’ll start to notice all of the positivity that you have in your life and everywhere else around you. Then, you’ll be writing more of these letters in the days ahead.