I recently survived two brain surgeries (the first needed to be reopened after complications) on Sept 21 and Oct 9. I had a month to get things in order, raise money, coordinate my husband and son taking off of work, and find a way to return to the doctor in Maryland. We live in Wisconsin. After starting a GoFundMe account, we received an abundance of prayers, kindness, well wishes, and funds; All of which were beyond our expectations, or request. In the end, a two week stay in Maryland, turned into a month and two days. None of this would have been possible without the love and support of everyone.

I want to post my last update to our GoFundMe, and up until now, I have shared my gratitude and said thank you...almost too much. I'm obviously happy to be alive, but I am also grateful, beyond words, to everyone that gave. (not just monetarily) I would like to share how deeply touched I am that so many continued to follow my progress so closely.

In short, "thank you", "ever so grateful", or the like, just doesn't seem strong enough for what I am trying to express.

Here is a link to the GoFundMe, if that helps?

  • I think... anything anyone may suggest will never really express the gratitude you feel in your heart. Your second paragraph actually conveys the awe (sadly, "awesome" has become an overused word today) you have experienced in the last few months or so. You just need to speak honestly. Good luck with your renewed life :)
    – Mari-Lou A
    Nov 26, 2015 at 13:48
  • 3
    Send what you have written
    – 7caifyi
    Nov 26, 2015 at 13:54
  • @Mari-LouA Funny, I was thinking that as I typed my question, but I thought I'd ask anyhow, in the hopes of finding a more descriptive word or phrase.
    – Debbie A
    Nov 26, 2015 at 14:02
  • 1
    And by saying that you have said it all... "you cannot find the words to express yourself/express your gratitude"
    – 7caifyi
    Nov 26, 2015 at 14:13
  • 1
    You want it to sound like you wrote it, not like someone else wrote it.
    – ab2
    Nov 26, 2015 at 22:02

2 Answers 2


According to some linguists, you have run into the problem of expressive utterances, which are used to convey the feelings of the speaker. This is as opposed to descriptive utterances, which give the details of some object or situation. Expressive utterances include epithets ("You jerk!"), interjections ("Damn this damn thing!"), honorifics, and performatives.

The last is applicable to your situation. A performative is an expression that is the thing itself. For instance, "I apologize" or "I promise" or "I thank you." Here the sentences themselves are respectively the apology, the promise, and the expression of gratitude.

There are characteristics of expressives that apply in particular to performatives:

  • They apply to an emotion, particularly a heightened one.

  • They are immediate and apply to the specific situation. You wouldn't express another's feeling of gratitude (although you might report it). You wouldn't place your expression of feelings in the future. (How odd it would be to say, "I'll feel grateful to you tomorrow for all the help you've given me."). And the context is the situation you're describing.

  • They are what's called "descriptively ineffable." Extra words don't help, and the attempt to add descriptive details is unsatisfying. You could go on at length about your medical condition, giving diagnosis, prognosis, and details about who treated you and how, but when it comes to detailing your gratitude, there's nothing parallel. As Mari-Lou says "anything anyone may suggest will never really express the gratitude you feel in your heart," and people are often reduced to actually mentioning the ineffability as when Christopher suggests "you cannot find the words to express yourself."

  • More words don't add meaning to performatives, just redundancy. You can add intensifiers: "I'm grateful. I am so grateful. I am so very grateful" And you can repeat your sentiment in other words, but that won't provide further understanding beyond the extra emphasis.

The good news is that everyone understands performative language because everyone has been in a situation that required an apology or an expression of gratitude. Remember that the expression is the thing itself, and it's likely to be accepted at face value.

(For more about expressives, I found this paper helpful. Helpful in understanding the phenomenon, but not helpful in telling how to express your gratitude better. The latter isn't really possible, so just say it simply. Good luck to you.)


Moved or touched

adj. 1. Emotionally affected; moved: very touched by the stranger's kindness.


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