To Cure vs. Heal

I recently had the opportunity to participate in a program called the Whole Health Medicine Institute, where I learned a lot.  In a discussion about "healing health care," a point was made by Dr. Lissa Rankin that really resonated with me, and I wanted to share it here. The point was this:

To be CURED means to be free of an illness or condition. This is not the same as being HEALED, which means to be restored or made whole.

We can undergo great healing without ever being "cured" of an illness. For example, some patients claim that a bad diagnosis changed their life for the better, by:

  • Helping them to see what is truly important,

  • Strengthening their relationships with others, and/or

  • Leading them to a meaningful mission.

Conversely, we can undergo cure without ever having a sense of healing. For example, the cancer cells may be gone, but the person still feels broken.

I realized that sometimes in health care we become so focused on cure that we fail to recognize opportunities for healing.

While CURE typically involves the mind's efforts, HEALING is the work of the heart.  

 The same is true in everyday life. We can be quick to try and fix or cure others' problems, when healing may be what the person really needs.

We ALL have the ability to be healers.

 Examples include:

  • The parent who comforts a child, letting them know they are safe and loved.

  • The friend who is simply present, offering a shoulder to cry on and an ear to listen.

  • The neighbor who recognizes another's tough time and offers their assistance.

  • The stranger who gives a kind word to brighten another person's day.

We can't always cure human suffering, but we can ALL take part in the healing process. And often the healing is more important than the cure.

 This post was originally published on May 23, 2016.