Colin Murray Parkes

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Colin Murray Parkes (born 1928[1]) is a British psychiatrist and the author of numerous books and publications on grief.[2] He was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire by the Queen Elizabeth II for his services to bereaved people in June 1996.

Parkes serves as an honorary consultant psychiatrist to St. Christopher's Hospice in Sydenham.[3] He was formerly a senior lecturer in psychiatry at the Royal London Hospital Medical College and a member of the research staff at the Tavistock Institute of Human Relations.

Parkes worked with Dora Black as a scientific editor of Bereavement Care, the international journal for bereavement counsellors. He also has served as an advisory editor on several journals concerned with hospice, palliative care, and bereavement.

Since 1966, Parkes has worked at St. Christopher’s Hospice in Sydenham, where he set up the first hospice-based bereavement service and carried out some of the earliest systematic evaluations of hospice care.

Parkes has also edited books on the nature of human attachments, The Place of Attachment in Human Behaviour and Attachment Across the Life Cycle. More recently he has edited Death and Bereavement Across Cultures and, in 1998, with Andrew Markus, a series of papers which have now been published as a book entitled Coping with Loss. This last work is intended for members of the health care professions.

Parkes is a former chairman and now life president of the charity Cruse Bereavement Care.[4] He acted as a consultant and adviser following the disasters in Aberfan, the Cheddar/Axbridge air crash, the Bradford Football Club fire, the capsize of the Herald of Free Enterprise and Pan American aircraft explosion over Lockerbie. At the invitation of UNICEF, he acted as consultant in setting up the Trauma Recovery Programme in Rwanda in April 1995. At the invitation of the British government, he helped to set up a programme of support to assist families from the United Kingdom who were flown out following the terrorist attacks of 11 September, 2001, in New York. In April 2005 Parkes was sent by Help the Hospices with Ann Dent to India to assess the psychological needs of people bereaved by the tsunami.

Recently Parkes's work has focused on traumatic bereavements (with special reference to violent deaths and the cycle of violence) and on the childhood roots of psychiatric problems that can follow the loss of attachments in adult life.


  • Bereavement: Studies of Grief in Adult Life; publ. Pelican, London and Routledge, London & New York (4th edition with Holly Prigerson 2010).
  • Love and Loss: the roots of Grief and its Complications. Routledge, London & New York (2006).
  • Editor with J. Stevenson-Hinde, The Place of Attachment in Human Behaviour, New York, Basic Books (1982)
  • With Robert Weiss, Recovery from Bereavement, publ. Basic Books, New York & London (1983).
  • Editor with J. Stevenson-Hinde & P. Marris, Attachment Across the Life Cycle, London & NY: Routledge (1991).
  • Editor with P. Laungani and W. Young,Death and Bereavement Across Cultures publ. Routledge, London & NY (1996).
  • With M. Relf and A. Couldrick, Counselling in Terminal Care and Bereavement (1996) publ. British Psychological Society.
  • Editor with Andrew Markus, Coping with Loss, BMJ Books (1998).
  • Editor & Contributor "Responses to Terrorism: Can psychosocial approaches break the cycle of violence?" (2014) publ. Routledge Hove, UK & New York.
  • The Price of Love: The Selected Works of Colin Murray Parkes, publ. Routledge, Hove, UK & New York (2015).


  1. ^ "Colin Murray Parkes". Hospice History Project. 1996. Retrieved 18 July 2011. 
  2. ^ Meerabeau, Liz; Wright, Kerri (2011). "6". Long Term Conditions: Nursing Care and Management. Wiley Blackwell. 
  3. ^ Stein, Samuel; Black, David Macleod (1999). Beyond belief: psychotherapy and religion. Karnac. p. xiii. ISBN 1-85575-186-0. 
  4. ^ "Bereavement 'raises risk of dangerous heart changes'". BBC News. 14 November 2010. Retrieved 18 July 2011.