14 Harry Potter Quotes About Loss

by Julia Seales

The Harry Potter series begins with loss. Harry is only a baby, but he has already lost his parents, and Dumbledore places him in the Dursleys' home for reasons initially unknown. Before he can talk or understand what’s going on, Harry loses his entire family — and becomes known as The Boy Who Lived.

Though there are so many light and funny moments, at its core the Harry Potter series deals with many complex themes, one of which is the pain of loss. After all, author J.K. Rowling dealt with loss in her own life, and often reflected her emotions in her work.

Even in the first book, Harry feels the deep sadness of loss: when he stands in front of the Mirror of Erised, he sees the family he never got a chance to meet. And when he faces Voldemort the final time, he uses the Resurrection Stone to see his loved ones and gain the strength he needs to face his foe.

Other characters experience loss as well, and it affects their lives in various ways. There are entire species that one can only see if one has witnessed death (thestrals). It’s clear in the world of Harry Potter how loss can affect a person — but the series also has wise words for those living with the pain.

1. "To have been loved so deeply, even though the person who loved us is gone, will give us some protection forever."

—Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

2. There was a knock on the door of their compartment and the round-faced boy Harry had passed on platform nine and three quarters came in. He looked tearful. "Sorry," he said, "but have you seen a toad at all?" When they shook their heads, he wailed, "I've lost him! He keeps getting away from me!" "He'll turn up," said Harry. "Yes," said the boy miserably. "Well, if you see him..." He left. "Don't know why he's so bothered," said Ron. "If I'd brought a toad I'd lose it as quick as I could."

—J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

3. "It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live, remember that."

—Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

4. “Master has given a sock,” said the elf in wonderment. “Master gave it to Dobby.” “What’s that?” spat Mr. Malfoy. “What did you say?” “Got a sock,” said Dobby in disbelief. “Master threw it, and Dobby caught it, and Dobby — Dobby is free.” Lucius Malfoy stood frozen, staring at the elf then he lunged at Harry. “You’ve lost me my servant, boy!” But Dobby shouted, “You shall not harm Harry Potter!” There was a loud bang, and Mr. Malfoy was thrown backward.

—J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

5. Madam Pomfrey insisted on keeping Harry in the hospital wing for the rest of the weekend. He didn't argue or complain, but he wouldn't let her throw away the shattered remnants of his Nimbus Two Thousand. He knew he was being stupid, knew that the Nimbus was beyond repair, but Harry couldn't help it; he felt as though he'd lost one of his best friends.

—J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

6. The sword had once belonged to Godric Gryffindor, founder of Harry’s House. He was gazing at it, remembering how it had come to his aid when he had thought all hope was lost.

—J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

7. "There is much that I would like to say to you all tonight,” said Dumbledore, “but I must first acknowledge the loss of a very fine person, who should be sitting here,” he gestured toward the Hufflepuffs, “enjoying our feast with us. I would like you all, please, to stand, and raise your glasses, to Cedric Diggory.” They did it, all of them; the benches scraped as everyone in the Hall stood, and raised their goblets, and echoed, in one loud, low, rumbling voice, “Cedric Diggory.”

—J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

8. As Hermione and Ron dragged their trunks, Crookshanks, and a caged Pigwidgeon off toward the engine end of the train, Harry felt an odd sense of loss. He had never traveled on the Hogwarts Express without Ron.

—J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

9. He would have been so interested to know all this a few months ago, and now it was meaningless compared to the gaping chasm inside him that was the loss of Sirius, none of it mattered . . .

—J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

10. An invisible barrier separated him from the rest of the world. He was — he had always been — a marked man. It was just that he had never really understood what that meant. . . . And yet sitting here on the edge of the lake, with the terrible weight of grief dragging at him, with the loss of Sirius so raw and fresh inside, he could not muster any great sense of fear. It was sunny and the grounds around him were full of laughing people.

—J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

11. “Sirius represented much to you that you had never known before,” said Dumbledore gently. “Naturally, the loss is devastating. . . .” “But while I was at the Dursleys’ . . .” interrupted Harry, his voice growing stronger, “I realized I can’t shut myself away or — or crack up. Sirius wouldn’t have wanted that, would he?"

—J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

12. "[Dumbledore's] early losses endowed him with great humanity and sympathy."

—Elphias Doge, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

13. “Do not pity the dead, Harry. Pity the living, and above all, those who live without love. By returning, you may ensure that fewer souls are maimed, fewer families are torn apart. If that seems to you a worthy goal, then we say good-bye for the present.” Harry nodded and sighed. Leaving this place would not be nearly as hard as walking into the forest had been, but it was warm and light and peaceful here, and he knew that he was heading back to pain and the fear of more loss. He stood up, and Dumbledore did the same, and they looked for a long moment into each other’s faces. “Tell me one last thing,” said Harry. “Is this real? Or has this been happening inside my head?” Dumbledore beamed at him, and his voice sounded loud and strong in Harry’s ears even though the bright white mist was descending again, obscuring his figure. “Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?”

—J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

14. "Anyway, it’s not as though I’ll never see Mum again, is it?” “Er — isn’t it?” said Harry uncertainly. She shook her head in disbelief. “Oh, come on. You heard them, just behind the veil, didn’t you?” “You mean . . .” “In that room with the archway. They were just lurking out of sight, that’s all. You heard them.”

—Luna Lovegood, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Images: Warner Bros (14)