This image is the cover for the book This Side of Heaven: A Memoir

This Side of Heaven: A Memoir

Just a few days before Christmas 2009, Valerie Staggs received a call that would change her life forever. Her husband, Ken Staggs, had been found unconscious at the bottom of their pool. Four days later he would be declared dead leaving her a widow at 42 and her son, Ryan, fatherless at the age of seven. This Side of Heaven chronicles the lives of Valerie and Ryan as they struggle to survive the aftermath of Ken’s death in a world that neither they nor anyone around them really knows how to navigate. As they search for help from friends, family, school, church, grief groups, therapists and strangers, Valerie gives us a raw look into the unique experience of loss from the perspective of both woman the unique experience of loss from the perspective of both woman and child and shares the fallacies that we all hold of the grieving process. From the initial shock of sudden death and the harsh realities of a grieving child, to the sticky nuances of being a widowed woman, to the surprisingly humorous side of death, This Side of Heaven chronicles exactly how life goes on after loss.

Valerie Staggs

Valerie Staggs is Head Person at Ryan William’s Agency, the full-service advertising firm she founded in 2002 to fulfill her passion for writing scintillating advertising copy. She has won numerous industry awards for her advertising campaigns, but she is most proud of the award she won in a sixth-grade statewide writing competition for her essay “How to Eat Jell-O with a Knife.” Valerie is the founder of Pandora’s Kids, a non-profit organization that supports families in grief. She lives in Palm Beach Gardens, FL with her son, Ryan, and their dogs, Jack and Jessi. She is currently working on her next book, a novel. For more information feel free to visit

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