Where Were You When Dumbledore Died?


It was book 6, The Half Blood Prince; so much was going on… Sirius had died,the Order of The Phoenix was a mess, and Dumbledore had taken Harry under his protective wing, sharing secrets of Tom Riddle.  This is the book where we learn of the Horcrux’s.  And this is the book… when Dumbledore dies and my heart breaks a little….forever.

It would take me 8 years before I realized this was my favorite book of the series.


I dont know why but this question has been in my head for a few weeks now and finally has made it to the blog.  It is one of those pivotal fiction moments that is embedded in me forever.  

I was at the YMCA on the treadmill.  I had just read through the whole chapter of Harry and Dumbledore searching for a horcrux and they had just made it back to Hogwarts, Dumbledore being in a weakened state.  It is Malfoy who approaches Dumbledore first and Harry is hiding below the staircase where he can see it all as it plays out.  Soon Belatrix arrives with her sister and they are shouting at Malfoy to do it, just kill him… but here is where you see that Malfoy is not as evil and dark as he wished he was.  It is then that Snape comes up the stairs quietly past Harry and you think that Snape will save the day….  but he doesn’t.  He instead kills Dumbledore and the pages become a massive blur of smear as I try to keep reading and understanding believing it must be a joke… it has to be really great magic …. it can’t be….

but it is.

That July day in 2005 I was at the YMCA on a treadmill with tears rolling down my face reading a big hard cover book that was hard to hold on the treadmill but it didn’t matter.


It is amazing that even as I write this I have to pause and take a deep breath because it all comes rushing back.

I write this post because much like the loss of a beloved relative or friend or famous actor, we tend to remember forever where we were when we first heard… first knew… it amazes me that in a really incredible read, that can happen as well.

For you maybe it wasn’t the death of Dumbledore… maybe there was another beloved character out there that even when you think of them today tears can come forward or your heart takes that little extra beat of sorrow. 

I would love to know who that character was for you and from what book.  Sure, for me there have been others, but Dumbledore was the one that really taught us all lessons (not only the students) through the years of the books leading up to book 6.  I still hold his wisdom true today and occasionally quote him the way some would quote Yoda. 😉

Please add in the comments either the answer to the BIG question, where were you when Dumbledore died, or where you were when that character you loved and cherished ceased to be.


*Oh and just in case anyone calls “Spoiler alert” to my description of the death scene…. I am sorry but…. REALLY?  I think the statute of limitations on spoilers in a book like this ran out a long time ago.  If you have not read this or any of the Harry Potter books you are truly missing out on the books that changed fantasy writing forever. 

34 thoughts on “Where Were You When Dumbledore Died?

  1. I was on my lunch break at work, reading the book. I went back to work and one of my coworkers said I looked like I’d just lost my best friend. I got through the day by hoping that it was some kind of mistake and that in the next chapter he’d be alive somehow.

    I also remember being shocked and saddened when Sirius died. He was one of my favorite characters. Lupin was another favorite so Deathly Hallows was really hard but after book six, I felt prepared for anyone’s death in book 7. It just seemed impossible that Dumbledore would die before the final book and that it would be at the hands of Snape.

  2. I was sitting on my makeshift bed in my in-laws’ house, as we had sold our house and were about to move to Texas. My reaction, honestly, had less to do with Dumbledore and more to do with Snape, who I loved. I was so disturbed that he would be the one who killed Dumbledore that I spent the next two days unable to think about anything else, and then, on the third morning after reading the end of Half Blood Prince, I woke up and understood everything. I understood why Snape did it, and why that “worst memory” from the fifth book was the worst. I understood it all. (And my theories mostly turned out to be right two years later.) After that, I was okay.

    I actually don’t mind, so much, when characters die, if it is essentially to the creation of a good book. I know some people got mad about certain characters dying in Harry Potter, but I honestly think it wouldn’t have been as good without most of those deaths. It IS hard when they die, though.

    1. I agree, death is essential in these books to give us the full emotion, even though it rips us (me!) up inside. Powerful books! As you know Amanda I am still so impressed with J K for making the tough calls. Without that, the books could fade away from memory as most tend to do. 🙂

      I didn’t always adore Snape – but when all was said and done and I read them all again and watched all the movies I learned to really appreciate him and now count him as one of the best characters of the books. (I cried when he died as well)

  3. I was 17, at home in bed – I screamed. Parents ran in to ask what happened. I had to explain that Dumbledore had died and Snape had killed him; how I thought Snape was a good guy pretending to be bad but it had been a lie all along.

    It’s safe to say they weren’t very impressed at the time.

  4. I really don’t remember where I was when I read the 6th Harry Potter, but I remember where I was reading the Hunger Games part when Rue died…. I was monitoring the “State” test in 6th grade…. The kids were snickering at me while I was trying to quietly mop up the tears. One of the sweeties pasted me a box of tissues. At least I know no one cheated.

  5. I know that I was at home, but I don’t remember the actual moment other than that I had to close the book for awhile and that I was in denial for a very long time. I didn’t really think Snape had killed him, and I thought that Dumbledore had faked his death. I just kept expecting something to happen to reverse his death. When book 7 came out, I read it with several friends who the Hubs and I had over after we went to the midnight release. I cried a lot with that book, and it was hard, because I was reading faster than my friends and I just couldn’t handle all the loss.

    A book death that I remember the most was in Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz. I was listening to the audiobook in my car, and towards the end a major character dies. I started crying so hard that I had to pull over on the side of the road because I was literally hysterical, heaving those ugly, loud cries that make it impossible to see or think. It was awful. I won’t say who died, because I wouldn’t want to spoil the book for anyone, but it left me breathless and weak from the crying.

    Absolutely amazing post, Sheila! Dumbledore is the literary equivalent of JFK or Princess Di or Michael Jackson. I have no doubt that it would have been etched in my mind if I’d been somewhere other than at home. If I’d be on a treadmill at the YMCA I probably would have cried so hard that I slipped off the damn machine from the puddle of tears.

    1. Oh my gosh Kate, me too! I was sure book 7 would let us all know it was an elaborate hoax and not “V” thinks Dumbledore is dead but he is not! You now have me curious about the Odd Thomas books… I have read the first three I think but can not think of a majot moment that you describe – either I was not as emotionally attached as you, or more likely… I need to get back into the books 😀

  6. My boys were napping, they were only 3 years old and 6 months respectively, and time to myself was precious and seldom in those days. I know exactly where I was…and tears fell onto the page. I remember saying out loud, “I don’t believe it. It can’t be true.” Too soon, my older son woke up and asked me why I was crying. I replied, “I had to say goodbye to a friend, and now I’m very very sad.” I didn’t know how else to put it to a 3 year old…but that’s just how I felt. And now I’m going to cry again. *sniff*

    1. Right! I recently told someone I had several copies of each book and they said “you should give some to the library sale.” I quickly responded I could not because those books have my original tears in them. 🙂

      1. My Harry Potter books are among those that I DO NOT loan out. I got an embosser for Christmas, with “From the library of Alison Skap” on it, and I won’t even mark up those books. I just can’t. (Great post, btw!)

        1. Alison, you made me laugh 🙂 I can tell you, my HP books haven’t faired quite as well *sigh* My paperbacks (yes, I couldn’t afford hardcover so that’s how I purchased them ’til HBP and bought it on release date! lol) are worn looking. Actually, my copy of “Azkaban” was defective, so the pages separate about the middle of the book. Very annoying. I figure someday I’ll be rich and I can have two complete sets of the hardcover collections, both old and new covers and maybe even the Brit editions! lol

  7. I was in my 8th grade bedroom at the basement apartment my mom and I lived in at the time. I read that scene and ran into my mom’s room sobbing hysterically saying “He’s dead! He’s dead!” She said “Who?” and I said in a huge sob “Dumbledore!”

    Something very similar happened the book before when Sirius died and then in book 7 when Fred died (I always loved Fred) I was in the backseat of the car on the way to the hospital in Maryland that was doing the surgeries on my legs. I read that part and yelled “NO!!!!” and started sobbing.

  8. I haven’t read any of the HP books, but seen the movies. I can’t think of any character that died that had such an impact on me. Hmmmm, wonder if I need to rethink my reading

  9. I think mine is a tie between Sirius and Dumbledore – I was in my favourite armchair when I read Sirius’s death, and on the school bus during Dumbledore’s. I was only six or seven at the time though, so I didn’t cry, but reading the end of Order of the Phoenix kills me all the time now =(

      1. I was a weird kid, so I read the fifth book last (don’t even ask) and that’s probably why Sirius’s death didn’t impact me as much as it could’ve – because I’d already known.

  10. Dumbledore’s death didn’t bother me because I was still crushed by Sirius’.
    I was watching movie 3 with the husband the other day. It was his first time seeing it. I was complaining about something that was left out and he said, “You take this way too seriously.”.
    I’m stull married but it was a close one…”

    1. Ha! I think my hubby will walk into a room when I rewatching (surprised the DVD’s still work they have been played so much) and eh will turn around and walk back out. He can not understand how I can watch them over and over again. At Christmas it is my College son and my tradition to end the night by watching Harry Potter movies until about 3 am. 😀

  11. The first time I read that Dumbledore died, I’m pretty sure I was in my bedroom at my parent’s house, probably reading very late at night because I spent the whole day FLYING through that book. I couldn’t believe it was true. How could you kill Dumbledore??

    The first quote you included in this post is one my FAVORITE quotes of all time. I have it all over the place because it’s so true — how you respond to a situation depends entirely on your attitude and “turning on the light,” so to speak.

  12. I was alone in my kitchen, at our tiny dining room table, feet propped up, reading as fast as I could. I’m surprised I don’t remember what I was eating! I thought it was a trick at first but as I became convinced that it wasn’t, I slammed the book shut. And then I’m pretty sure I slammed it on the table. I hate to cry so I get angry instead. Very mature of me, right? There was still a little part of me that kept hoping he would show back up, even into the last book.

    Another one that hits me hard every single time is Matthew in Anne of Green Gables. I don’t think I quite took it in the first time I read it but I remember reading it the second time in the car with my family. I remember just sort of slinking down in my seat and trying not to cry. I still tear up at that one!

  13. Oh, man, Sheila, what a subject! I don’t think I can ever tire of talking about anything to do with the HP books 🙂

    I read most of the series here at home and occasionally in doctor’s waiting rooms or the Barnes cafe on occasion, but all of the big moments were read here, either on my couch by the lamp, or in my bed. I was here, on the couch, when I read “Avada Kedavra” passing Snape’s lips to send Dumbledore soaring over the tower wall. My heart was twisted in all directions, as it was with Sirius, most definitely with Dobby, and when Harry was walking through the forest to Voldemort. The deaths in HP were so poignant because J.K. made these characters as real as fictional characters could be. I will never forget the months of theorizing with friends and other HP fans in Barnes & Noble University forums. We all cared SO much and told of how we’d feel if any of the characters died. There’s no way any of us could handle the “Big 3” or Hagrid or so many others. But EVERYthing that woman wrote was for a reason and served a purpose. I know I will never feel about a series or its characters the way I felt about HP.

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