There are no rules when it comes to dealing with grief after a loss. Each person will deal with it in their own unique way. Some will appear to recover faster than others. Some will seem to to get their life back together more effectively. However, very broadly speaking, it seems to be that the first year tends to be the hardest.
The reason for this is not simply that it is the time soonest after the loss, and therefore the memories are stronger and the pain is greatest. If that were the case then the first week would be harder that the second week, which in turn is harder than the third week and so on. But many people will report that things get worse after a certain amount of time as things start to sink in. The first few weeks may seem like a daze and you're numb, but after that has passed it really starts to hurt.
What seems to be the case is that overall, that first year is the hardest to experience. This is not an arbitrary amount of time that seems nice and even. Think about what happens in that first year.
Every single birthday or anniversary will be experienced, for the first time, without that person present. First Christmas. first New Year, first Easter, first summertime all carried out, for the first time, with the huge missing part.
You know these days and times are going to happen, but what you don't know is what it's going to be like. If that person always visited you on your birthday, you don't know how it will affect you the first time it doesn't happen. How will Christmas be without their personality there to make it special?
The final anniversary of that first year will be the one that marks the loss. The day your world changed. From then on, you repeat the cycle of birthdays, anniversaries and events, only this time it's a little different.
It will still hurt. It will still feel unbelievable. You may still be angry. But the subtle difference is that the second time, you do have a clue what to expect. You can remember what it was like when that person didn't visit you on your birthday last year. And if you have a clue about what's coming, you can be prepared. You can't stop the pain but you may diminish it in some way, just because it isn't a total surprise.
As a counsellor specialising in working with grief and loss, I hear so many people expressing concern that they are still not dealing with their loss and "it's been a whole year so I should be feeling better than I am."
That 12 months is likely to be one of the most upsetting, traumatic and difficult periods of your entire life. After one year you can't expect to be getting over it. You should really be acknowledging that you made it through that time period and all the significant days within it. You're a survivor. Only then can you think about how to move forwards with your life and what it could look like from then on.
One year may seem like enough time to deal with a loss, but it tends to be people that haven't been through it that have that opinion.