The 8 Horcruxes of Grief: The Harry Potter Grief Model

Understanding Grief / Understanding Grief : Eleanor Haley

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Disclaimer: The grief model outlined below is completely unsubstantiated. The opinions expressed by the author in no way reflect the opinions of anyone anywhere (except those who take the train from King's Cross Station Platform 9 & 3/4 *wink wink*)

In order to defeat grief, individuals must overcome the 8 Horcruxes listed below. Muggle explanations are in red.

I'll provide some background info for you non-Harry Potter devotees. It would take me forever to explain the whole plot so if you want more information either read the books, rent the movies, or check out this Harry Potter wiki.

Okay, so Tom Riddle was a bad kid who grew up to become Lord Voldemort. Lord Voldemort was super powerful and super mean. He was the evilest.

In an effort to avoid ever really dying he created Horcruxes. Horcruxes are powerful objects in which Dark wizards and witches hide fragments of their soul for the purposes of achieving immortality. A Horcrux anchors your soul to earth so even if your body is destroyed a piece of you stays alive. The more Horcruxes you have, the closer you are to immortality. Voldemort ultimately created 8.

Long story short, when Harry Potter was just a baby his entire family was attacked by Lord Voldemort. Voldemort succeeded in killing Harry's parents, but when he tried to kill Harry his body was destroyed due to a protection spell cast by Harry's mother. After this Voldemort only existed in his Horcruxes, although he made many attempts to regain his power. Ultimately, as Harry Potter grew up, it became his legacy to destroy these Horcruxes in order to completely kill Lord Voldemort.

Horcrux: Marvolo Gaunt's Ring

Heirloom ring that contains the 'Resurrection Stone'. The legend of the 'Resurrection Stone' tells of a man named Cadmus who asked Death for the power to return people from the dead. Death picked up a black stone from a nearby riverbank and gave it to Cadmus, telling him it contained the power he desired. Cadmus then brought his lover, who had suffered an untimely death, back to life. Sadly when she returned she was not truly alive and she wanted to go back to the world of the dead where she belonged. It pained Cadmus to be able to see her but not truly be with her and he was driven to madness.

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross spoke of the 'bargaining phase' of grief when survivors hope on some level they can postpone, delay, or reverse death. They want to buy more time, see the person again, or have life returned to the way it was. In order to overcome this Horcrux, one must accept the finality of their loss and the reality that their loved one is gone. Those who have overcome this Horcrux may find peace in seeing their loved ones in their memories and dreams as opposed to feelings of frustration and agitation at not having them completely.

Horcrux: Salazar Slytherin's Locket

Locket which was owned by Tom Riddle's mother. Riddle coveted the locket and, after making it into a Horcrux, hid it in a seaside cave. He guarded it with a potion that caused unbearable pain to anyone who drank it and forced them to relieve their worst memories and face their worst fears. The locket was removed from the cave and eventually came into the possession of Harry and his friends. The locket affected the mental and physical wellbeing of anyone who wore it. The locket was known to cause irritability, suspicion, and the complete inability to feel happiness. Harry and his friends knew of the locket's negative influence yet still struggled to understand their feelings when wearing it. It took a very long time for anyone to succeed in destroying it.

In order to overcome this Horcrux, one must learn to identify and understand the feelings caused by grief. Grief causes unbearable pain and forces us to relive bad memories and fears. It has a negative influence on our physical and emotional well-being, causing us to feel all sorts of bad. One must be able to identify grief's ability to cause unhappiness and misery and understand that in order to feel better they must work through their grief. Grief can take a long time to work through, but eventually, the strong feelings of discomfort and negative emotions should subside.

Horcrux: Nagini

Female snake with a special bond to Lord Voldemort. He used her venom as one of the ingredients for a potion to help him regain strength. She is cunning, deceptive, fast, strong, and understands the inner-workings of humans. Being bitten by Nagini can result in terrible wounds and even death. Her venom makes it difficult for wounds to close.

In order to overcome this Horcrux, one must resist the temptation to use negative coping mechanisms such as drugs and alcohol to deal with their grief. It is easy to think these will provide a respite from bad thoughts and feelings, but they will not help you regain true strength. They are often poisonous, fast, and strong. Using these coping mechanisms may actually result in the wounds of grief staying open and/or healing slower.

Horcrux: The diary of Tom Riddle

The first Horcrux created by Tom Riddle was a journal he kept as a boy at Hogwarts. The diary used its magical influence to posses Hogwart's student Ginny Weasley and forced her to open a dangerous Chamber of Secrets.

In order to overcome this Horcrux, one must deal with painful thoughts from the past. One must not let their memories of regret, guilt, fear, shame, and/or anger keep them locked up in a room of pain. Negative feelings need to be unlocked and dealt with which can be achieved by learning to understand, process, accept and integrate them.

Horcrux: Rowena Ravenclaw's Diadem

A crown which enhanced the wisdom of the wearer. This crown was stolen from Rowena by her daughter Helena out of jealousy. Helena hid the crown and then died years later. It remained hidden until Tom Riddle charmed its whereabouts out of Helena's ghost. Once Riddle procured the crown he turned it into a Horcrux and hid it for another few decades in Hogwarts Room of Requirement (which is the 'Room of Hidden Things').

Many of us bury our emotions and feelings about unpleasant experiences deep and keep them secret. Often we're afraid to admit these secrets to even ourselves. In order to overcome this Horcrux, one must find an outlet for these secrets, whether through journaling or art, talking to a therapist or a close confident, or another coping mechanism.

Horcrux: Helga Hufflepuff's Cup

The magical cup which came into Tom Riddle's possession after he murdered its owner and stole it along with several other artifacts. After turning the cup into a Horcrux he gave it to Bellatrix Lestrange, a mean witch, who treasured the object and locked it up in a vault with many other artifacts and objects.

In order to overcome this Horcrux, one must decide what to do with the objects and belongings of their loved one. You may choose to keep them, give them away, sell them - it doesn't matter - but you must find peace with the decisions you have made regarding the disposition of important objects. Read our post on dealing with a loved one's belongings after a death for more clarity.

Horcrux: Quirinus Quirrell

This Hogwarts professor literally became a Horcrux when Voldemort decided to share his body. Quirrell was unable to resist Voldemort's will and was forced to do his evil deeds. Quirrell began to prey on unicorns in the Forbidden Forest to give Voldemort strength. Quirrell ultimately died trying to murder Harry Potter at the command of Voldemort. His body burned due to the protective power Harry's mother left in his skin when she died for him. Quirrell did not ultimately lose his soul because he tried to resist Voldemort on occasion.

In order to overcome this Horcrux, one must understand the influence grief has on behavior. Grief forces us to do things which are out of character and one must learn to accept and forgive their grief influenced behaviors no matter how crazy, strange, mean, or weird. One must trust, although they will never quite be the same, they will eventually feel normal again.

Horcrux: Harry Potter

Harry Potter became a Horcrux when the love from his mother protected him from Lord Voldemort's curse. Instead of killing Harry the curse backfired and destroyed Voldemort's body and all his power. In the course of this battle, Voldemort accidentally gave part of his powers to baby Harry as well as a piece of his soul. Harry was left with a lightning-shaped scar which became a telepathic link between Voldemort and himself. In their final battle years later Voldemort attempted to kill Harry but instead ended up killing his Horcrux inside of Harry. Harry did not die at this time because his blood contained a bond anchoring him to life and protecting him from Voldemort.

This is the final Horcrux in the battle to defeat grief. In order to overcome this Horcrux, one must accept their own feelings towards death and mortality. Experiences with death can bring us closer to understanding the fragility of life often leaving us feeling scared, fragile, and powerless. Our grief scars become links between us and the existence of death. Like Harry, continued bonds anchor our loved one's memories to us, just as they will anchor us to those who remember us after we die.

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24 Comments on "The 8 Horcruxes of Grief: The Harry Potter Grief Model"

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  1. Carrie  August 19, 2020 at 12:13 am Reply

    fantastic, thank you. Really poignant. Gives me a lot to think about and work on.

  2. Kathy  November 30, 2019 at 2:47 pm Reply

    This was terrific. Hope folks can lighten up a bit and see just how helpful it is.

  3. Nathaniel  August 12, 2019 at 6:14 pm Reply

    There had to be an eighth horocrux because Voldemort intentionally made 7 and he didn’t know Harry was one it never showed what it was but it was whatever he used to come back when he killed cedric

  4. Glen  December 17, 2018 at 8:41 pm Reply

    Quirinus Quirrell was not a horcrux. All the horcruxes were created before Harry survived the attack. So he is not a horcrux. Quirinus Quirrell was someone possessed by Voldemort. But he was not a horcrux.

  5. n/a  July 12, 2018 at 1:26 am Reply

    Can someone please explain to me as to how you can consider Quirinus Quirrell as a horcruxes. I’ve looked it up I’ve reread the first book and re watched the first movie and I don’t understand how he is a horcruxes. Please help me understand.

    • Willow  November 23, 2018 at 2:48 am Reply

      He isn’t. There were only ever 7 Horcruxes. Voldemort did not set out to make 7 Horcruxes. What he set out to do was to split his soul into 7 pieces.
      6 pieces into 6 items to make Horcruxes. The 7th piece of soul would remain with him, and is not a Horcrux. When he died attacking Harry’s mom, a piece of his soul went into Harry inadvertantly making Harry a 7th Horcrux. He wasn’t fully destroyed when he was defeated while attacking lLily because the purpose of the 6 Horcruxes was to keep him from fully being killed.

  6. Diana Tolladay  June 16, 2018 at 6:50 pm Reply

    Jesse on how “friends” and “Family” used him:
    “There are all kinds of courage,”… “It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends.” –The Sorcerer’s Stone
    Jesse on not being religious, yet Spiritual:
    “It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.” TSS
    “It is the unknown we fear when we look upon death and darkness, nothing more.” –The Half-Blood Prince
    “After all,… death is but the next great adventure.” TSS
    Jesse on drinking and being encouraged to:
    “Numbing the pain for a while will make it worse when you finally feel it.” –The Goblet of Fire
    Jesse on our relationship:
    “…happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.” – Prisoner of Azkaban
    “Things we lose have a way of coming back to us in the end, if not always in the way we expect.” ―Order of the Phoenix.
    “It’s sort of exciting…breaking the rules?” -Order of Phoenix
    “The thing about growing up …, “is that you sort of start thinking anything’s possible.” –Order of the Phoenix
    “He felt his heart life at the thought there was still one last golden day of peace left to enjoy.” – Half Blood Prince
    The Love we “always” felt for one another:
    “After all this time?” … “Always,” –The Deathly Hallows

  7. ash  December 26, 2017 at 12:03 pm Reply

    in the books and movies it says that voldemort wanted to split his soul into seven pieces but then he accidentally made harry a horcrux when he killed his mother

  8. Linda  November 1, 2017 at 5:14 pm Reply

    Thank you for this. From another Harry Potter fan and a bereaved mother this helped.

  9. Linda  November 1, 2017 at 5:14 pm Reply

    Thank you for this. From another Harry Potter fan and a bereaved mother this helped.

  10. Janice  January 12, 2017 at 8:14 am Reply

    I just read it too. It’s kind of crazy and kind of brilliant.

    • Litsa  January 12, 2017 at 10:45 pm Reply

      Crazy and brilliant is often how I describe Eleanor! 🙂

  11. Kathleen  January 9, 2017 at 2:19 am Reply

    Eleanor, In spite of this article being written a while ago (I just read it) I have to comment. I enjoyed it so much! I am going to refer to it often. Thank you.

  12. Vicki  May 25, 2016 at 11:15 am Reply

    My daughter wanted him back in an almost literal way the first year it happened. She’d just turned 15 a month before she saw her dad die. He died in Tower 1 of the World Trade Center. She didn’t see him with her eyes but she knew he was there and might not have made it out and, later, she knew for sure he hadn’t made it. So she asked “Why can’t God do what he did with Lazarus and raise him (her dad) from the dead?”
    I didn’t know the answer and made the mistake of asking someone at our church. I didn’t think she was being completely literal when she asked but they became angry at the question as if they thought I’d wondered about the most inappropriate thing on earth, and then they became demeaning when they said it wasn’t possible, as if that’s the only reaction we deserved because of how ignorant they appeared to think the question was. If I’d known they were going to do that I never would have asked them anything.
    It was a really strange reaction for someone to have when up until that point they’d acted as if they never doubted that Jesus really did bring Lazarus back from the dead. She was sure that they believed what they’d told her about Lazarus. I don’t see why they acted so angry and then demeaning in their response.
    I didn’t think it was an odd question. I thought she was steeped in too much grief after nearly witnessing with her own eyes the death of her dad in a violent way and that she wanted to find a way to decrease the pain. She was sent to a hospital for 4 months after it happened because she was in no way prepared to handle it. I couldn’t find any literature for helping her either. All the stuff they kept showing about ‘How to help kids handle 9/11′ was for kids who didn’t freakin’ know someone who had died that day, so I ignored the literature. Then we ended up in counseling for it.
    Talk about they don’t come with a manual, they sure as hell don’t come with instructions for how to deal with THAT. People calling it ‘life happening’ felt completely insulting. Spilling milk on the rug or putting a dent in the car is ‘life happening.’ Not a gd terrorist attack.
    At least the counselor understood that.

    • Jeannie  December 30, 2017 at 8:49 pm Reply

      Vicki I know this was a while ago, but I was compelled to reach out to you. I live in NC but grew up in NY. I lost friends and have family who were at ground zero looking for survivors. It was horrible. I am a true believer in Christ and am so sorry your child was given such a discouraging response to her question. I’m willing to talk with you and pray with and for you if you would like. You can teach me at

  13. Ally  August 30, 2013 at 4:31 pm Reply

    Well… Quirrell was not a horcrux. Voldemort just possessed his body since he was stripped of his own after attempting to kill Harry. So it’s an interesting article… But it’s not accurate.

  14. Mike Le  August 27, 2013 at 4:58 pm Reply

    A fantastic article, although there were only 7 horcruxes.

    • ash  December 26, 2017 at 12:03 pm Reply

      in the books and movies it says that voldemort wanted to split his soul into seven pieces but then he accidentally made harry a horcrux when he killed his mother

  15. Eleanor  August 8, 2013 at 4:44 pm Reply

    Jennifer, you know I wrote this as an adult with a slightly unhealthy love for Harry Potter, but now that you mention it I guess it would be a good approach for ‘tweens and teens! Thanks for reading and I’m glad you liked it.

  16. Eleanor  August 8, 2013 at 4:39 pm Reply

    Cynthia, I’m so glad this helped a little. Thanks for reading and let us know if there are ever any specific topics you’d like to see discussed.

    • Philip P  July 3, 2023 at 6:33 am Reply

      What brought me here was watching a reel on Instagram where Snape finally showed Dumbledore where his loyalty truly lied.
      After all this time, his heart was with Lily, Harry’s mother and that he had sacrificed alot including himself to protect the memory of the love he had and still has for her.
      I went through the comments on IG and read something about “Horcruxes” and then googled it which lead me to this place where it was explained in ways that gave me an insightful perspective on the Harry Potter series which I never had before (Have not really been a huge fan though I find it interesting).
      Thank you “” for this insightful explanation.
      If our fantasy heroes could manage their griefs, we can too. God bless everyone here who is grieving a loss.
      I hope you all find comfort and happiness. Love and light.

  17. Jennifer Simpson  August 5, 2013 at 12:44 pm Reply

    This is fantastic! I volunteer at the Children’s Grief Center in Albuquerque and may use this…

  18. Cynthia  August 5, 2013 at 11:23 am Reply

    This was wonderful! You put into concrete terms some abstract thoughts that I’ve been trying to work through. Thank you. I love reading your posts.

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