Late last year, I led a session for our MS1 students in which we discussed the idea of healing. We used this article as a jumping off point in the discussion. The article goes through a process of defining healing, but the core concept is that of healing as a transcending of suffering.
Healing is a complicated issue. Not everyone heals the same way, at the same pace, or to the same level. Healing can be fast or slow, complete or incomplete and it can be very hard to recognize how to heal. The traumas and the stresses that people face can be so severe that it might be difficult to identify the best way forward, and to determine what steps need to be taken. Sometimes these steps might be harmful, might create problems of their own. Sometimes when in the depth of a crisis we strike out, or we lapse too far inwards. The hope is that we can find some way to move past those harmful actions and find a true way forward--even if that way is diminished.
Healing is made more difficult because of what people heal from. If they are healing from a physical suffering, an emotional injury, a loss of control or some loss of wholeness, they will heal differently. Until we can accurately identify the source of the suffering, then the path to healing will be extremely difficult.
I think this is an important reason why people seek medical care as part of their healing. Sometimes we can help, with medications, or surgery, or some other treatment. Often times, our role in healing is simply our presence helping patients and families through the difficult times, advising and treating where we can, and bearing witness and sharing in the process. The assurance that someone will be there to care and to help may be an important step in peoples' healing.