C. S. Lewis distinguished between bereavement and estrangement, saying the bitterness of the latter is worse than the grief of the former. Both can exhibit elements of the other, but when a person looses a loved one by natural death there is no rejection.
We can, however, turn it all to bitterness through blame, by holding God, another, or ones self, responsible for a loss. “God could have prevented his death,” or, “I could have done more to prevent her death.” Both trains of thought contradict God’s Word by denying his essential love and assuming he doesn’t have our best interests at heart.
Bitterness proceeds from blame, and hatred from bitterness. Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matthew 5:43-44) And he also said, “forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
Even if someone is responsible for our loss, Christ holds us responsible to love them anyway. Of course, that may be the hardest thing we’ve ever done, as it goes against every natural instinct in our being. The key that Jesus gave us to unlock the love he commanded is pray for those who persecute you. And the operative term there is for, rather than against. Pray for their salvation! Pray for their happiness! Pray for their prosperity! Pray for his love for them. And mean it! Such a change of mind is simply a matter of will, and it could be said, will versus won’t.
Motivational speakers like the phrase, “Just do it!” If you have a problem with someone, praying for their wellbeing won’t come naturally. You won’t mean it at first, but as you persistently obey Christ, he will change your mind, and before you realize what’s happened you will mean it. He will give you his love for that person, be it God, some other person, or even yourself.
Grudges are a thorny beast,
steal your rest,
steal your peace.
Deal with them as saints of old,
pray your straw-works