Healing Doesn’t Always Mean Getting Well

[Fair warning: this post is sad.]

In the summer of 2016, a young buck showed up, alone, behind my back fence — a fact I was alerted to by one of my dogs, Tango, who is fascinated by deer. The photo above captured the buck looking through the fence slats at Tango, who was standing on the other side with his nose to the fence, mirroring the deer. This young buck, who kept visiting the area behind my house (whom I could recognize by his one broken off antler), looked emaciated and unhealthy. I believe that he probably had chronic wasting disease.

I assumed Mr. Buck was spending so much time behind my yard because he was in need of healing, so whenever I knew he was there, as well as at other times when I thought of him, I shared Reiki with him. He looked in such bad shape that I also asked other healers to help him, too. What I was forgetting is that sometimes healing is needed to ease transition. Every time I saw this fellow, over the course of a month or so, he was always alone, and although he didn’t look worse, he also never improved.

One evening I was returning home, about to pass where the creek and open area that you can see in the photo meet the cross street at the end of my block, when there came the buck, stepping out onto the road in front of me. I came to a stop and watched sadly as he crossed, ever so slowly, struggling to get to the other side of the street. As he was about to step out of the road, he stopped and turned to look at me, holding my gaze for several seconds. I knew in that moment that I would never see him again and offered a prayer for his quick passing.

I went home not only grieving but also feeling frustrated with God. Why had this deer come to me for help when I was unable to help him? It was friends who reminded me that healing does not necessarily mean recovery, that sometimes we help by easing suffering and smoothing transition. And so, although my heart ached for my buck friend, I was grateful for having had the opportunity to help him suffer less during his last weeks.


**As a side note, if you have deer in your neighborhood, please do not feed them; that is one of the possible causes of chronic wasting disease.

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