When healing doesn't happen

Posted by Karen M. Wyatt on September 30, 2011 at 3:45 PM


This series on healing has examined an actual experience with the contemporary healer Braco and the myth or miracle of faith healing in general through the eyes of a medical doctor. Now it is time to consider those instances when healing doesn’t happen; when an illness persists or when life comes to an end despite all efforts to utilize the best of Western medicine, faith, prayer, alternative therapies and every other modality known to produce healing. Why is the gift of healing not available to everyone who seeks it?

Throughout my medical career I have observed the capricious nature of illness, noting that some patients, who were never expected to recover, miraculously survived against tremendous odds.  Concurrently, others who suffered with illness that is usually treatable have succumbed to their disease totally unexpectedly.

I learned long ago that it is foolish to make specific predictions about illness and recovery and that many times we cannot find a scientific explanation for why people do or do not heal. Despite our advancing medical knowledge and technology, patients still die while we who think of ourselves as healers stand by helplessly.

However, from my years of working with hospice patients I have recognized that there are two flaws in our thinking regarding illness and healing that contribute to our frustration and lack of understanding:

The first flaw is with our definition of healing and the fact that we generally limit our consideration to healing on the physical level. But the root word of heal means “whole” and it is possible to become more whole as a person even while suffering with a physical illness. In hospice I worked with many patients who were remarkably whole people even while dying, because they had allowed their illness to teach them spiritual lessons.

The second flaw lies in our perception of the purpose of life on this planet. If we become distracted by the amazing abilities of the physical body and assume that life is primarily to enjoy the physical pleasures of existence, then we are disappointed and distraught when we lose our strength and ability. But life is a really a spiritual journey which we navigate in a physical body for the purpose of teaching us higher truths. Some illness then is actually sacred and comes to us in service of spiritual growth.

From the perspective that life has a higher spiritual purpose we can look at questions of healing entirely differently. Some of us will heal from our illnesses, a few even miraculously, and some of us will not heal. But whatever the outcome, our growth as spiritual beings is served along the way.

Our task then becomes to live with the knowledge that when we become ill we may or may not be healed, but we can become more whole in either situation. When we find our way to acceptance of this reality of life, then we will be one step closer to understanding the mystery of the Universe and fulfilling our purpose here on Earth.


Categories: Illness & Healing, Hospice, Healthcare

Copyright ©2010 Karen Wyatt, MD

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