Published
19 January 2024

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Remembering Dr Colin Murray Parkes OBE

Colin Murray Parkes wearing a brown suit and a blue tie laughs

We are sad to announce the death of Dr Colin Murray Parkes OBE, who died peacefully at home on 13 January, aged 95 years, after a short illness.

Beloved husband of Patricia, and father, grandfather and great-grandfather, Colin taught us that grief is “the price we pay for love”.

Colin worked closely with our founder Dame Cicely Saunders for many years at St Christopher’s and was dedicated to the understanding and care of bereaved people. He touched countless professional and personal lives.

An expert in grief and bereavement having worked with families after the Aberfan disaster in 1966, he established the first hospice bereavement service at St Christopher’s.

In 1960s Britain, bereaved friends and relatives were expected to hide their grief and carry on with normal life. However, the service was a success, partly because it recognised that dying not only affects someone with a terminal illness but also those close to them.

The service provided contact with loved-ones, and debriefing meetings for staff after each patient’s death, along with basic psychiatry training for nurses.

Bereavement services are now common and St Christopher’s continues the work Colin started by providing both informal and formal bereavement care to more than a thousand people each year.

He was interviewed for our Oral History project, The Voices that Shaped Us, which was exhibited in 2022, and you can listen to an extract of his interview here.

The thoughts of everyone at St Christopher’s are with Colin’s family at this time.

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