My husband left this world in November. I miss him every day, in every way. Of course I do. I had someone tell me it would be weird if I wasn’t sad right now. She was right.

It’s hard to understand why it has to be this way. Why my future has changed suddenly and inexplicably. Why he is there and I am here, when all we ever knew was us together.

Grief is very lonely. You want to be part of this world, but the person you long for most is part of another and no one really understands, although they want to and try.

Despite the grief, I am becoming grateful. I am leaning into it more and more every day. Or at least I am trying. I am filled with gratitude for the love we shared. For the love we share. Present tense.

Gratitude is a gift. It fills your heart and feeds your soul at the deepest of levels. It enhances life.

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I am filled with gratitude for so many things. I guess it’s the whole glass half-full or half-empty concept. Which do I choose? Because it is my choice. We all have the choice, and we all know the answer. Hard as it is, sometimes, it’s obvious.

At first I lamented, in the true sense of the word. We had 33 years together. I lamented we didn’t get 50. I still do, sometimes, but mostly I try to give thanks for the 33.

We may have missed out on the 17 years between 33 and 50, but we could have had less. Much less. He got to see our children grow from babies to adulthood. We got to do this together. It was our life project. I’m grateful for that.

We grew together, for each other, with each other over the years. Many couples don’t get this chance, others grow apart instead of together. I’m grateful for our growth — together. It was fabulous.

We had a lasting and enduring love for one another. Still do. Not everyone can say that. How can I not be filled to the brim with gratitude for a love so pure and strong and absolutely life-changing? I am filled.

I’ve always been a proponent of gratitude, but lately I’ve come to believe it is life-changing. Finding gratitude in whatever circumstance you are in is key to growth and joy. And there is always something to be grateful for. Always. If you are still alive and breathing, then each breath is cause for gratitude.

Gratitude is a blessing. My husband is a blessing. And the bigger the blessing — the more blessings you have — the more there is to lose. That’s how I saw it at first, when I found myself in the eye of the hurricane of grief.

Seeing the loss is not the best way to perceive it, though. Not really. We can’t or shouldn’t live life afraid of loss. We can’t deny blessings because losing them will be hard. We can’t live life cautiously or safely. Or at least we shouldn’t.

Life is meant to be lived fully and deeply. It is meant to be filled with gifts and gratitude. It’s also filled with hard times, sometimes.

But the hard times can and will pass — if you are willing to see the gifts in front of you right now, in the present moment. All that takes is opening your eyes, your heart and your mind to the possibilities. Accept your gifts. Pull off the bows.

Jill Pertler is an award-winning syndicated columnist, published playwright, author and member of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists. Don’t miss a slice; follow the Slices of Life page on Facebook.