Western culture medicine seems to look at health as a competition.  The unhealthy aspect of a person is something ‘other’ that is attempting to take over, modify, or destroy the person.  The medical establishment is a competitor that wants to ‘win’ by stopping the ‘other’ in their tracks and restoring the patient to life.  I’m speaking huge generalities here and do not mean to imply that this is true for all healthcare workers or practitioners.  I know quite a group of doctors, nurses, cna’s, and midwives who do not see things this way and do not act from this point of view.  But they are notable exceptions and I adore them for it.

Meanwhile, the rest of the system is ‘battling’ illness and either winning or losing, as if the individual’s health is part of March Madness. The problem is that individuals are not a cage match filled with an invading team.  They are an integrated system full of interrelated parts including their beliefs, their feelings, their habits and behaviors, and a soul.  At any given moment any part of this system could have some dis-ease or dis-function and the others will react.  Like a car alarm the emotions might start bleating that there is something going on but it is actually the body that is the source of the problem.  Or the body might alert by having problems, when it is actually the mind that is suffering the dis-ease.  In any case, the point is not to win some victory, but to heal the patient.  Which in some cases may not mean making them well.

In some cases, such as elder care, the point is not to make them well.  The point is to care for them, heal them, so that they can live the remainder of their life comfortable, happy, and with the same quality as when they came into it. Healing for them is about living and leaving with grace, not ‘winning’ against death by extending their life, many times painfully and without any cognition.  Sometimes the body has become too compromised for life to continue.  In this case healing is about the emotions.  Allowing the person and the people they love to love each other through the ending process.  Healing means letting go.  Sometimes healing means accepting what is.  Accepting that the life will be different than it could be, that it can be more, that it is a challenge.  Sometimes healing doesn’t mean getting well.  Sometimes it means becoming miraculous.  Check our Amy Purdy and what healing means to her:  http://www.ted.com/talks/amy_purdy_living_beyond_limits.html