What can you say to a person who saves your life? Words almost don’t measure up to a sense of overwhelming gratitude. But writing a “thank you for saving my life” letter is a good way to acknowledge someone’s critical action.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- What to Include in a ‘Thank You for Saving My Life’ Letter
- Sample ‘Thank You for Saving My Life’ Letters
- How Else Can You Thank Someone For Saving Your Life?
You want to honor them and communicate as clearly as possible, but it can be a sensitive topic to broach with them. Heroic acts like saving a life are not everyday events in most people’s lives. It can be difficult to talk about even when you want to.
With a little time and consideration, you can create a message that shares your sentiment and makes a personal connection. As you search for the right words, consider these tips, examples, and additional ideas.
What to Include in a ‘Thank You for Saving My Life’ Letter
Life-saving moments can be chaotic, emotional, and overwhelming. These suggestions can help you lay out your story in a way they can easily absorb.
Briefly retell your story
When you start your letter, briefly retell your story. In big emotional moments, memories can get jumbled. Also, your recollection of the events may be very different from theirs.
Help them see things from your viewpoint by sharing what happened just before they arrived. Then share what you recall from the event itself. This will help you and the other person start from the same point. Making your story distinct may be particularly helpful if the other person is an EMT or works in an emergency room.
Emphasize the critical action they took
Details of a critical moment can get lost in emotion and adrenaline. After some time has passed, highlight the urgent action they took to make a difference for you. If this person didn’t know you before, give them a little back story and emphasize why their involvement was so important. By sharing the most vital moments of that day, you put pieces together to form a bigger picture for them.
Acknowledge their courage
It’s hard how you might act in an emergency until it happens to you. It’s so easy to freeze at a moment like this. Even a person with a lot of emergency care experience can feel a flood of emotion. Recognize their courage and how it made a difference for you.
Sometimes it’s hard to control your body and mind when reacting to an emergency. When a person takes action despite feeling shocked or afraid, it’s courage that makes it possible.
Express your gratitude and what it means to you
Your gratitude is the meat of your letter. Once you’ve explained the circumstances and how they made a difference in that moment, do your best to express your gratitude. Start with a simple “thank you.” If you’re having difficulty coming up with the right words, just begin with this. The other person is a human just like you, and they’ll understand the difficulty you may have.
Consider mentioning a few important moments in your life that are possible because of their act. You can celebrate an anniversary, reach a milestone birthday, or take part in a family reunion. You can be there for your loved ones, something that may not have happened if it weren’t for the person you’re thanking. Sharing those future experiences can make it all worth it for them.
Include a picture
Including a picture may be helpful for a number of reasons:
- You can give the other person a face and name to the event they remember.
- You may look quite different in a nice picture than you did when your life was on the line.
- Your photo can give more life and personality to the memory of those critical moments.
By providing a picture, you can add another layer to their experience instead of a blurry emotional memory.
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Highlight a few personal aspects of your life currently
One of the most impactful things you can do is share what’s going on in your life right now. This is somewhat like sharing upcoming special events that you can take part in, except it’s more about your everyday impact on the world. Explain what you do for a job, as a volunteer, or what you do for your family. Describe the impact you have on other people and what you’re able to do because they saved you.
Sample ‘Thank You for Saving My Life’ Letters
Take some of these ideas to help you with the wording in your thank you letter. You’ll find examples for several situations.
For nurses, doctors, or paramedics
Medical professionals need to be ready for emergencies at any time. And while many would just say that they were doing their job, they are people too. Medical professionals often prefer to stay under the radar and give credit to their support teams instead. In this case, consider giving credit to them individually and also to their workplace or organization.
A simple thank you doesn’t seem to be enough, for your extraordinary act saved and changed my life. I understand that you may not wish to be in the limelight, so I also thank your entire medical team for everything they do to support you. Even if they were not involved in helping me in that moment, they support what you do every day. So please also give my thanks to your team for what you did for me. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.
For a close friend, family member, or mentor
When someone makes a heroic effort to save your life, you may feel like you’ll never be on equal footing again. It may seem strange, but this can be more difficult to wrestle with when it’s someone close to you. This person isn’t a stranger that you may never see again.
You may wonder how you and the other person can go back to regular life, casually hanging out and spending time together. Even so, they are probably just happy to know you are doing well. Here’s one example of what to include in a thank you letter to a family member.
Thanks to you, I now have two birthdays. Yes, that means you may need to give me another gift every year! My original birthday is when I was born as a baby. The second birthday is the day you saved me. I can’t ever truly repay you for what you did. You can’t wrap that up in a box and hand over a gift like that. So let’s celebrate by enjoying each moment we are together on this earth. I will surely appreciate every single day from here.
For someone who saved your loved one’s life
One of the scariest moments in life is knowing you may lose someone you love. When someone steps in and saves them, you may wonder what you could ever say to explain your gratitude. Here are a few words that can help you express your thoughts.
I’ll never forget the moment I thought I was about to lose my loved one. They were almost gone when you jumped in and took action. Without your confidence and quick thinking, I would have a deep hole in my heart right now. Instead, I got a second chance to enjoy more time with my loved one. There’s no way I can truly repay you, but please know that my gratitude will live on for the rest of my life for everything you did.
How Else Can You Thank Someone For Saving Your Life?
Writing a letter to someone who saves you can be a meaningful way to process those critical moments in your life. However, there may be other forms of expression that fit your needs better.
Consider honoring them publicly for their life-saving act
Some communities give local awards honoring extraordinary acts of generosity or heroism. Charities, sporting organizations, and support groups often publicize the award winners through local media outlets or at special events.
Find out what’s available in your community or regional area. Be aware that some people are uncomfortable with publicity, so consider honoring them within a larger group, if possible.
Offer to meet them in person
If the person is willing and lives nearby, offer to meet up with them for coffee or a meal. It’s not that paying for their coffee evens up the ledgers between you. Creating a human connection is what makes the impact. Sharing your thoughts in person can continue the story for them beyond that fateful day.
Instead of just a moment of impact, you add another chapter to the story. Be aware that meeting in person may be a lot for the other person to process, so take this step slow and be patient.
Consider sending brief follow-ups in the future
Sending one detailed thank you letter shortly after the event can be very moving. But ongoing communication can also be meaningful. Sharing snippets of your life highlights the impact they made. You’re showing them what they made possible, like special family occasions and more birthdays.
Pay it forward
If you can’t reconnect with the person who saved you, you can still honor them by paying it forward. Find opportunities to support people who do good in your community. If you live in a smaller city or town, support fundraisers that allow fire and rescue services to operate. Or find a charity service near you that provides safety and support services for people in need.
Look for homeless shelters, food banks, or safe houses for people escaping abuse. The depth of your gratitude can motivate you to make a difference for others every day.
Thanking Someone - Living With Gratitude Every Day
Thanking someone who has saved your life can feel like a daunting task. Writing a simple letter of thanks is a great start, but there are other ways to say thank you, too. Whatever you do, carry your gratitude with you as a reminder of your second chance at life.
- “Multiple Neurons in the Brain Must Fire in Synchrony to Create Strong "Emotional" Memories.” Columbia University Irving Medical Center, 13 July 2020, www.cuimc.columbia.edu/news/why-are-memories-attached-emotions-so-strong