Much of life is a process of grieving — grieving the things we lose along the way, whether youth or beauty, loves or friendships. Eventually, even memories will be mourned. Disease and disability hasten the process, denying us activities that once granted meaning. In the face of this loss, we turn readily to the language of conflict, of winning or losing the struggle against disease. Healing is taken as synonymous with curing, restoring lost abilities or, at worst, preventing further decline. Anything less can sound inferior.
There is more to healing than what is captured by medical narratives and more to disease than just conflict and loss. Few would deny that any sickness beyond the trivial has an emotional dimension. So might we not also speak of the spiritual? To do so is not to excuse the existence of disease, nor to justify suffering in the name of a higher cause, but simply to speak truthfully of the experiences that shape a life — the experiences that can create, and break, purpose and meaning.