What Harry Potter Teaches us about Grief

“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 & The Sorcerer’s Stone 

When Harry Potter looks into the Mirror of Erised that shows the gazer’s heart’s desire, he sees himself surrounded by family members who have died, including his dead mother and father. While comforting, the vision also ignites an intense longing bordering on obsession. As Professor Dumbledore warns, Harry must turn away to preserve his sanity and live a meaningful life.

As Cathy Rentzenbrink observes in her acclaimed book, Dear Reader, this is one of many moments in Harry Potter which offers profound insights into the experience of bereavement. From Dementors to the Patronus Charm, this panel will delve into the magical world of Hogwarts, exploring what Harry Potter has to teach us about bereavement and depression and how we can use these stories to talk to children about grief and other mental health issues.

Cathy Rentzenbrink is the author of The Last Act of Love which was a Sunday Times bestseller and was shortlisted for the Wellcome Prize. She followed it with A Manual for Heartache and her latest book Dear Reader: The Comfort and Joy of Books was published in September 2020.

Dr Lesel Dawson is a Senior Lecturer in English at the University of Bristol and is one of the organisers of Good Grief.


Dr Lesel Dawson

Facilitator Cathy Rentzenbrick

Cathy Rentzenbrink

Dr Ian Calvert bio pic

Dr Ian Calvert