The search for justice for the Co Tyrone bride, though often gruelling, has given her loved ones something to focus on throughout their pain.
But 18 months on, instead of some semblance of closure, they find themselves without answers - only fresh questions about exactly what happened to the young woman who should have been looking forward to celebrating her second wedding anniversary.
Married in front of family and friends in her home county of Tyrone, Michaela's idyllic honeymoon with new husband John in January 2011 should have marked the start of the rest of their lives together.
Instead, the Down Gaelic footballer was to find the beautiful wife he adored strangled and her body dumped in the bathtub of their luxury hotel suite.
The loss of the 27-year-old newlywed was the cruellest twist in what should have been the most perfect fairytale.
She was a gem and we will always remember her.
Although best known in GAA circles as an ever-present figure by the side of her devoted dad Mickey Harte, Michaela's death sent shockwaves beyond community divides.
The First and deputy First Ministers were among those who expressed their condolences, with Peter Robinson's poignant tribute at Stormont recognising the overwhelming empathy with those enduring such a nightmare.
"I am a father. I have a beautiful daughter of a similar age to Michaela - I love her to bits. It gives me a sense of the loss, but only a sense, for the reality is so much more painful than the imagining," the DUP leader said.
For the life of a young woman to have been cut so short would have been tragic in any circumstances, but for that life to have been brutally taken from her while on honeymoon seemed almost beyond comprehension.
In the days that followed Michaela's murder, Mickey Harte was to plead for his son-in-law to be allowed to grieve.
"He's in such a lonely place," he said.
In fact, the young widower had already been through the hell of finding himself handcuffed by Mauritian police in the hours immediately after he had held Michaela in his arms and begged her to wake up.
He was taken to a derelict-looking building and left to cry alone for hours.
"What are you crying about? You're young, you'll get another wife," one officer told him.
Perhaps harder still was to be that final goodbye, in the church where they had been married just 18 days earlier - the bride now laid to rest in her wedding gown and the groom pressing a last kiss to her coffin.
She completed my whole life ... She was the most beautiful person I have seen.
The strength of character and depth of faith shown by Michaela's loved ones has been hailed by many as inspirational, with Mickey Harte even putting aside the burden of his own grief to help carry the coffin of murdered police officer Ronan Kerr barely three months later.
Both he and John McAreavey also travelled to Dublin to hear the Dalai Lama talk about the power of forgiveness.
"Not every one of us can take that on board to that extent, but there is a certain lesson there for us to aspire to," the widely-respected Tyrone GAA boss said.
According to the Harte and McAreavey families, the wealth of support they received from friends and strangers alike helped to sustain them "physically, emotionally and spiritually through the darkest of days".
They have since had to find the strength to take them through the often testing trial of those accused of robbing them of Michaela and the future she should have enjoyed.
That is a journey that must now continue if they are to find a grain of comfort in seeing those guilty of her murder brought to justice.