CA Healthcare Chaplains
Meet Mike Reeder
Hospices are an integral part of the healthcare system. These unique sanctuaries bring comfort and solace to individuals suffering from incurable illnesses, supporting them through their journey towards the end of life. With a strong emphasis on dignity, respect and personalised care, hospices are often self-funded and not only attend to the medical needs of patients but extend their holistic support to their loved ones and caregivers as well. Among these compassionate caregivers, many incredible Church Army Evangelists play an essential role as chaplains, providing invaluable spiritual guidance. Commissioned Church Army Evangelist Mike Reeder is an important part of the chaplaincy service at St Luke’s hospice in Sheffield.
Meet MIKE REEDER
I started my working life in catering and hospitality before following my calling and becoming involved with Church Army. I now work as lead chaplain for a hospice in Sheffield. I have been there for 16 years now, and I have found that my life experiences, both good and bad, have given me an understanding of life that helps me relate to and support people through pastoral care. I have worked in lots of different roles and parishes all over the country. I have a few catering qualifications and a diploma in evangelism but no degree to speak of, but I don’t think that matters. I’ve graduated from the university of life, and I believe there is more than one way to get to where God needs you to be.
Chaplaincy within a hospice setting is often helping people who are terminally ill as well as their loved ones. People are there for symptom control or pain relief but also for psychological and spiritual needs. As chaplains, we hope to be able to help each person by building a relationship of trust. We try to help a person to feel a bit better about things in a non-medicinal way. The hospice movement was created to help people die well, using a trio of medical, psychological and spiritual intervention with each part being as important as the others. Every single human being is spiritual, and some may have faith as part of that, but not everybody. And that’s what my role is — to be part of that spirituality.
As chaplains, we have a lot of difficult and delicate conversations with people about what they’d like to happen once they have passed on. Often, we help the bereaved after the death of a loved one, both practically and spiritually. Death is not something we are comfortable talking about as a society, and many people don’t know what to do after a loved one has died. Dealing with coroners, undertakers and informing people after the death of a person are all things that need to be done, but because we don’t talk about it, not many people know what to do. As well as dealing with their grief, they are faced with practical problems, and we can often help in those situations. Some families also face division and broken relationships, so sometimes our role is to help negotiate family dynamics to allow the wishes of the deceased to be carried out.
By getting to know people and providing support in practical matters, it creates a relationship of trust and opens a gateway to talk about spirituality. People will often ask how I cope with these situations, and that allows me to share a little of my faith and my witness. I explain how I lean on my faith. I hope it encourages them to explore a little more and ask themselves what they think.