Grief and Coping with the Loss of a Pet

Maria Milito with beloved Clarice

This article courtesy of Michele C. Hollow,

Ever notice how strangers become friends when we exchange tales about our cats, dogs, birds, horses, and other pets? And when a pet dies, we understand the grieving process that each of us goes through. It’s a sad time that is made just a bit easier when someone shows us empathy. That is what Maria Milito’s book Clarice and Friends: How They Helped Mend the Hole in My Heart does.

I’ve been a fan of Maria’s for 20 years—that is how long she has ruled the Rock ‘n Roll airways in New York City. She can be heard reaching millions of listeners at Q104.3 in NYC. Maria is also an animal advocate.

“Animals can’t speak for themselves so my microphone is often used for their advancement,” she says. “For 16 of those 20 years, my dog “Clarice the Wonder Pug” was a large part of my on-air conversation. From silly dog antics to her week spent in ICU at the age of 14, my dog’s life was shared with my listeners and they grew to know and love her as much as I did.”

Maria received hundreds of e-mails from her listeners asking about Clarice. “And they shared their pet’s life with me,” she says. “If I made a public appearance, it was always ‘How’s Clarice doing?’”

“When Clarice died in 2006, the outpouring of sympathy and care through their e-mails was astounding,” she explains. “I found myself comforted by them. Their personal real-life stories sent in e-mails helped me get through my grief and helped me realize I was not alone in my feelings.”

“Pet loss in our society is not understood the same way a family member’s death is; although sometimes the loss is even more devastating. Most pet loss books on the market are either from a psychologist’s or a therapist’s perspective, a religious angle, or aimed at children and how to deal with loss in their young lives. Clarice and Friends differs in that it is from people like you and me; people who loved their pets and lost them.”

This book is filled with heartfelt emotions that will make you smile and tear up. The opening chapter, How Do I Know When It’s Time? shares insights on how hard it is to let go.

The chapter titled, When Do I Get Another Pet? is filled with sincere advice from listeners who struggled with this question. Listener Noreen wrote: “No other pet could take the place of your Clarice, but one day perhaps there will be another to fill your heart with joy! Clarice would want you to share all the love you have for animals with another as you have done with her.”

Noreen was right. About a year and a half after Clarice died Maria adopted “Carmine the Big Ragu” from a city shelter. Carmine went from a sickly 11 pound dog with pneumonia to a muscular 90 pound Boxer/Bulldog/possibly Mastiff mix. Maria’s listeners hear about her antics from time to time.

A book about loss can sound depressing, but Clarice and Friends is filled with hope. The positive message of love is carried throughout the book. Maria’s listeners, like all pet owners who have gone through a loss, really care and understand how to move through the pain. Clarice and Friends provides readers with strength and wisdom—the wisdom of loss and the knowledge that one can love again.

A portion of the proceeds from this book benefits numerous animal welfare nonprofits. The paperback version retails for $9.95. It is also available for $6.95 through Kindle, Nook, and eBook. Click here for more information and to order the book.

Maria is collecting more stories for a second edition. To submit a story, contact Maria at