09/15/2009 at 06:20 PM EDT
For Michelle Williams
, the pain from losing Heath Ledger
hasn't gone away – it's just a different kind of hurt.
"After the first year, the pain is less intense; it's less immediate," Williams, 29, tells the October issue of Vogue
. "But the magical thinking goes away too. And that's a whole new reckoning. But every time I really miss him and wonder where he's gone, I just look at her."
The actress is referring to their daughter Matilda, who was just 2 years old when Ledger died in January 2008 of an accidental drug overdose.
Williams, who had split from Ledger months before his death, initially spent much of her time with her daughter, but returned to dating late last year. "I thought falling in love again was the only thing that was going to save me from the pain," says Williams, who was seen with director Spike Jonze. "This erroneous idea: It just makes things more complicated."
Still, she remains optimistic about her future with Matilda. "I feel hopeful and grateful," she says. "For a while I thought we had lost everything. It makes you want to love better and live better."