This article explores the idea that suffering is a key aspect of the healing process. Suffering often manifests itself as 'disease' within the body in the form of physical symptoms. It is posited here that this is the psyche's unconscious way of drawing attention to the inner tension of the conflict of opposites. Whilst this tension is often the seat of discomfort, it also holds the key to the individual's own creative potential, including that of healing. Drawing upon the work of contemporary nursing theorists Margaret Newman, Rosemary Parse, depth psychologists Thomas Moore and James Hillman this article argues that caring and suffering are unnecessarily polarized in nursing. A method of working with symptoms is discussed that honours both the poetics of the suffering and the individual's inclination towards health.