There are a few different grief theories and models around that attempt to explain how people grieve. Many of them are very linear in approach and seem to imply that there are various different stages to work through, in a specific order, until the person reaches acceptance of their loved one's death. Some, however, look at grief being different for everyone, that no one experience is the same, and that at times it will be messy, muddled and confusing. These models also argue that the grieving person doesn't ever reach acceptance but rather adjusts and builds their life around the death. One of the models we like at Mosaic is the Upward Spiral of Grief. This explains grief as an ever-changing journey, starting from the 'black hole' immediately after the death through various feelings such as anger, denial, sadness and relief eventually coming to a place of adjustment. What will also happen is that at times like anniversaries, birthdays etc we go back down the spiral a bit but will start moving up again once that time has passed. Each person's journey will be very different and cannot be compared to anyone else's.
Grief for the person we have loved will never go away, it will always stay within us because we will never forget that person and we will always miss them, but it will diminish over time and not be such a large part of our life. As Dr Colin Murray Parkes said in his book 'Bereavement: Studies of Grief in Adult Life': "The pain of grief is just as much part of life as the joy of love; it is perhaps the price we pay for love. To ignore this fact, or to pretend that it is not so, is to put on emotional blinkers…"