Potter fans mourn end of 10-year era

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J.K. Rowling says she was devastated after finishing the seventh volume of her Harry Potter series -- and many fans of the epic tale of teen-age wizardry are sharing her sense of loss as they realize that an era has also ended for them.

After years of passionate Potter attachment and months of anticipation for the July 21 publication of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," some fans are experiencing something akin to mourning.

"Oh man, it's over! I am so sad that I can't ever go on a new adventure with Harry and the trio again," one fan wrote on the www.mugglenet.com message boards this week.

Heather Mitchell, 30, a Duke University student who is one of the organizers of a Harry Potter convention in Toronto next month said: "I have spent eight years of my life reading these books so there is a sense of 'Wow! I don't have any more left to read now.'

"I've seen some of that grief on our message boards with some people randomly reporting bursting into tears and realizing that this is the end," Mitchell said.

Grief counselors say feelings of mourning are to be expected, especially from young fans at the close of the 10-year series.

"As human beings we grieve things we are attached to -- relationships, objects sometimes, dreams. People are attached to these characters and also to this series," said Heather Servaty-Seib, a childhood grief expert at Purdue University in Indiana, who choked up herself while finishing the book.

Tears, sadness and fear are just some of the emotions being shared by fans who have already whisked through the 759 pages of "Deathly Hallows." Some are compensating by immediately rereading all seven books. For the umpteenth time.

"I was almost literally, physically sick through the entire story .... I'm just coping with saying goodbye to the story to be (too) upset about the outcome," said fan Silverdragon in a posting on www.harrypotterfanzone.com.

But for others, excitement over the final outcome, and frustration about subplots that were not tied up as expected, has overshadowed the sadness.

"For a lot of people, the shock of not having another book to look forward to hasn't quite set in like I thought it would," said Emerson Spartz, 20, who started the www.mugglenet.com fan Web site when he was 12.

But he added: "We have so many unanswered questions that we are still focused on having answered. And there is still a lot going on in the Harry Potter world with two more movies to look forward to, a theme park being built in Florida, and we now know J.K. Rowling is planning to write a (Harry Potter) encyclopedia," Spartz said.

Psychologists say intense sadness at the ending of the series is a normal reaction.

"When that connection with the characters ends, there is bound to be mourning and a sense of loss," said Terese Vorsheck, director of a youth grief counseling center in Pennsylvania.

"I don't think we give enough credence to the loss because it's fictional."
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