Colin Murray Parkes

Colin (1928-2024) was Cruse's Life President and worked tirelessly throughout his long career to support those who are grieving.

January 17, 2024

We are deeply saddened to hear that Dr Colin Murray Parkes OBE, MD, DPN, FRCPsych, Life President of Cruse Bereavement Support, has died aged 95.

Colin was Cruse’s Life President and worked tirelessly throughout his long career to support those who are grieving.

Colin was born in 1928 and had a distinguished career as a Senior Lecturer in Psychiatry at The Royal London Hospital and the Tavistock Institute. As Consultant Psychiatrist to St Christopher’s Hospice, Sydenham he worked closely with Dame Cicely Saunders, setting up the first hospice-based bereavement service.

Colin joined the Cruse Council in 1964 after his ground-breaking work showing that many widows were actually suffering severe and protracted grief. In 1972 Colin became Chairman of Cruse and was instrumental in expanding the role of the charity to a national service for all bereaved people.

Colin taught us that grief is “the price we pay for love”.

Colin was involved in the response to many disasters and major incidents over the years, including the Aberfan disaster (1966), the Bradford Football Club fire (1985), the capsize of the Herald of Free Enterprise (1987), and the Lockerbie plane explosion (1988). He acted as consultant in setting up the Trauma Recovery Programme in Rwanda in April 1995. Together with Cruse staff and volunteers he helped to set up a programme of support to assist families from the UK following the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001, in New York. In 1992 Colin was made Life President of Cruse and he was awarded an OBE for services to bereaved people in June 1996. Colin had a talent for communication. His classic work Bereavement: Studies of grief in adult life, continues to be widely read and he has co-authored and edited many other important works. Colin continued to work and volunteer for Cruse into his 90s and remained editor of the journal Bereavement until 2019.

He will be greatly missed and our condolences go out to his family and all who knew him.