In some ways we are all hurting. We are all grieving. Regular readers of this column know that I’m experiencing grief as a result of the sudden and unexpected passing of my husband, but grief doesn’t have to involve someone dying and leaving this earth.

Grief can simply involve a loss. And we have all experienced loss in the last year. Our lives have changed. Our world has changed.

I never thought I’d live this out, on both levels — grief and COVID-19. The changes the pandemic has brought about are significant. They have cost us as individuals. They have cost our beautiful nation. They have cost the world. They have cost humanity.

It’s huge.

Newsletter signup for email alerts

And in the midst of this terrible world tragedy, we find ourselves at each other’s throats.

We are angry. Bitter. Hurting. Polarized.

And it’s scary. Scary what we will say and do. Scary how we attack and judge those who might not agree with us. Scary what might happen if we don’t find a way to apply the brakes on this out-of-control train and get things back on track.

It feels complex and daunting; it’s not. The answers are basic and simple, as most overwhelming things often are.

I’ve written about my own gratitude recently, but we all, collectively, can share the same gratitude. It doesn’t start or stop with you or me. It connects us all. It reminds us of the loving connection we share with each other and humanity. It weaves us into the tapestry that links us all on some level, on many levels.

We are all loving beings created to be a part of this universe. And gratitude can help remind us of this truth, especially and most vividly in the worst of times. It is exactly now that we all need love and gratitude the most.

Gratitude is universal. It is life-changing. It heals. It helps us grow. It raises us to a higher level. And, like most things, we get better at it with practice. For the next three weeks (or more) I invite you to my gratitude party. Make gratitude your new habit. Practice it every day. What are you grateful for right now? What do you hope to be grateful for a year from now? Believe in the best. I’ll get you started with my own list. Recite and repeat. Feel free to add your own content.

Thank you for…

  • Clean air to breathe.
  • Clean water to drink.
  • Clouds in the blue sky.
  • Sunshine.
  • Pets.
  • Your voice.
  • Something that is personal to you (add your own answer here).
  • Hummingbirds and hummingbird feeders.
  • Snow. Rain. Thunderstorms at night.
  • Lightning across the horizon.
  • The wind blowing through a bedroom window.
  • Birds, who know instinctively how to fly.
  • Fish, who know instinctively how to swim.
  • Cheetahs, who know instinctively how to run.
  • Squirrels, who know instinctively how to hid nuts and construct 3-D maps.
  • Your ability to love other human beings.
  • Babies.
  • Grandmas and grandpas.
  • Teenagers.
  • Candy. Chocolate. Sugar.
  • Your heartbeat.
  • Your healthy body.
  • A pen that actually works.
  • Light. The dark night sky. Stars.
  • Trees. Plants. The earth.
  • A new idea.
  • People coming together.
  • People who disagree, but respectfully.
  • Breath. Relaxation. Peace.
  • Tears — of joy and of sorrow.
  • A good massage.
  • Your mom. Your dad.
  • Freshly cut grass.
  • Pillows. A cozy bed.
  • The overall connectedness of humankind.
  • Our miraculous bodies.
  • Our miraculous minds.
  • Our miraculous souls.
  • Our ability to heal.
  • The United States.
  • Earth.
  • The universe.
  • The unexplored abilities of your mind.
  • Faith. Truth. Trust.
  • Kindness. Compassion.
  • Life. Pure gratitude.
  • Infinite love.

Understanding the importance of all of the above, and knowing, while love is infinite, so are the things we all have to be grateful for. Let them unite us, not divide us. Sending infinite love to you. May it help heal us all.

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.