Grief can bring out a primal impulse to protect oneself from further hurt.
In the past three years, I've found myself in a position to love on friends while they grieve. And I've found that while I'd like to think that I am super compassionate and quick to love, it is still a choice to give compassion to someone while they grieve, and not always an immediate response. Though we may feel sorry for what they've experienced, compassion is a choice we make after the knee-jerk reaction of how sorry we are for them.
Compassion is love in action.
Grieving people may be some of the hardest people to love. Sadly, I often found myself in this category: hard to love.
Grief can make you defensive and self absorbed; a hermit who never engages with friends or family. Grief can steal and destroy the person we were. Navigating our new life and getting to know the new person inside, we find ourselves making more enemies than friends- though I believe this is mostly unintentional. Grief can make you more concerned with your own survival and unaware of the causalities around you.
To give compassion to the grieving is to open yourself up to hurt and unreciprocated words of affection and support. When you choose to love on a grieving friend, you are asking to be uncomfortable. Brokenness and death and disease are never easy topics of conversation, but we must choose to open ourselves to these feelings in order to love our neighbor.
Jesus had compassion on the crowds, on the sick man, on the grieving sisters, and he chose to act in love because He understood true love. We can have compassion on the grieving. We can act in love because we have a perfect example of ultimate love.
It is a commandment, but it is also a choice.
And lest we forget, there is also great freedom in the Gospel.
We are, in fact, free to run and hide from the hard realities around us. We are also free to love the unlovable, knowing that our feelings may get hurt, our phone calls may go unanswered and there may never be a 'thank you' uttered for our efforts. We are free to live in a bubble, never venturing outside our comfort zone.
But we are also free to serve, understanding that we may be a causality.
We are free to love and serve because we have been loved with wild abandon.