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Colin Murray Parkes is a British psychiatrist and the author of numerous books and publications on grief. 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 and consultant psychiatrist to St Joseph's Hospice in Hackney. 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 (with J. Stevenson-Hinde, 1982 publ Basic Books, NY) and Attachment Across the Life Cycle (with J. Stevenson-Hinde & P. Marris, 1991, publ Routledge, London & NY). More recently he has edited Death and Bereavement Across Cultures (with P. Laungani and W. Young, 1996, publ. Routledge, London & NY) and, in 1998, with Andrew Markus, a series of papers which have now been published as a book entitled Coping with Loss (BMJ Books). This last work is intended for members of the health care professions.

Parkes is a former chairman and now life president of Cruse: Bereavement Care. 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 in New York to assist families from the United Kingdom who were flown out following the terrorist outrages on 11th September 2002. 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 Parke'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.

See also[]




  • Parkes, C.M. (1972) Bereavement: Studies of Grief in Adult Life, Harmondsworth: Penguin.
  • Parkes, C.M. (1972)Love and Loss: the roots of Grief and its Complications. Awaiting publ’n by Routledge, London & NY.
  • Parkes,C.M. & Weiss,R (1983)Recovery from Bereavement, publ. Basic Books, New York & London
  • With M. Relf and A. Couldrick, Counselling in Terminal Care and Bereavement (1996) publ. British Psychological Society.


  • Parkes, C.M. (1964) The effects of bereavement on physical and mental health: a study of the case records of widows, British Medical Journal 2: 274.
  • Parkes, C.M., Benjamin, B. and Fitzgerald, R.G. (1969) Broken heart: a statistical study of increased mortality among widowers, British Medical Journal 1: 740.