Granger Smith's Wife Reflects on Year of Joy and Grief 7 Months After Son's Tragic Passing

Granger Smith’s Wife Reflects on Year of Joy and Grief 7 Months After Son’s Tragic Passing

In June 2019, country singer Granger Smith and his wife, actress Amber Smith, experienced unimaginable grief and heartbreak when their young child, River, unexpectedly passed away.

River was just 3 years old when he was playing “water gunfight” with his older brother and later found in the pool in their backyard by his parents. In one of the many YouTube videos, Granger and Amber have shared over the last seven months, River could have been in the pool anywhere from 30 seconds to three minutes.

RELATED: Country Singer Granger Smith and Amber Smith Donates Son River’s Organs, Saves Two Lives, After Tragic Drowning Accident

Granger was also outside their home when tragedy struck, he was watching their oldest child do gymnastics. He told his YouTube fans that he remembers thinking to himself to cherish that special moment outside with his children because you never know how long those blessings will last.

Within minutes of having that thought, he and Amber were on their pool deck, performing CPR, and waiting for first responders to arrive. River didn’t survive and his organs were donated to those in need.

Amber Smith Opens Up About 2019, Seven Months After Son’s Passing

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2019 – The year that brought me to my knees. The year our beautiful red-headed boy turned 3 & went Home. The year that same sweet boy saved 2 other lives. The year that broke my heart into pieces but also tempered my spirit. The year we started The Smiths. The year we moved from our home and all the memories we made there. The year Linc turned 5 and started kinder and London started 2nd grade. The year that I became the closest to God I’ve ever been. The year I cried every day for 6 months straight. The year London lost 3 teeth and turned 8. The year we ministered to hundreds about grief and hope. The year we vowed to not let anything tear our family apart. The year we promised to find meaning and not reasons. The year Granger and I became closer than ever before. The year my eyes were truly opened to what is important. The year we’ve never felt more love from our community. The year I found out that joy and grief can coexist. The year we dove back into the fire to help other grieving parents. The year that changed me. The year of the blue butterfly. The year I learned that I am not in control. The year that solidified that I can’t live this life without God. I can’t believe it’s been almost 7 months since we held our sweet Riv and that we will be starting a new year without him physically with us. Through this sadness, I’m hopeful for all that is to come. My goals for the coming year are to grow the @theriverkellyfund and help as many people as we can, keep London and Lincoln thriving despite the heartache of the past year, grow in grace and faith with my Maker, share our story in the hopes of helping others, and be in the present moment, because as much as we want to plan and dream, today is all we have. This moment. Each day, whether good or bad, is another gift from God. I hope to live it with gratitude and compassion for others. I hope to continue to surrender my battles, because in my weakness He is my strength. I hope to forgive myself little by little. I hope to keep bringing people to the Kingdom and sharing the love of God that I have felt so strongly. (Continued in comments)

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Now that the end of 2019 has come, Amber is reflecting on the hardest year of their life. On Instagram, Amber shared an illustration of their family, with River depicted holding Jesus’s hand. She wrote:

“2019 – The year that brought me to my knees. The year our beautiful red-headed boy turned 3 and went Home. The year that same sweet boy saved 2 other lives. The year that broke my heart into pieces but also tempered my spirit. The year we started The Smiths. The year we moved from our home and all the memories we made there. The year Linc turned 5 and started kinder and London started 2nd grade. The year that I became the closest to God I’ve ever been. The year I cried every day for 6 months straight. The year London lost 3 teeth and turned 8. The year we ministered to hundreds about grief and hope. The year we vowed to not let anything tear our family apart. The year we promised to find meaning and not reasons. The year Granger and I became closer than ever before.”

Amber continued, adding that is was the year she learned what was important, the year she felt so much love, and the year she learned that “joy and grief can coexist.” The year we dove back into the fire to help other grieving parents.

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I posted this video a long time ago, but Granger and I were talking about how special it is to have a couple videos of River so concerned with mama. He was always making sure I was ok (even though we were just playing). He would always hold my face with his soft, chubby little hands, and gave me the sweetest, biggest hugs. I was at his angel spot a few weeks ago, bawling my eyes out and all the sudden I heard “don’t pry mama”. It was one of those God moments. I felt him telling me not to cry. That he was safe and happy and he was ok. I got up and went inside the church, sat on the floor and opened my palms in front of Jesus. I thanked him for giving us this sweet, amazing boy for three wonderful years, I prayed for strength for me and for Granger to navigate this road ahead, the best we could for London and Lincoln, and I welcomed His spirit to lead the way for me. I don’t know much, but I know God is faithful. I’ve never been closer to Him than in these last few months, and I thank the Lord everyday for giving me hope and for the few moments of peace I’ve received. We have to keep the hope. We have to hold on to God’s promises. Faith in the unseen. Many of you have messaged me about your troubles, your storms, your loss – hold on to Hope. Let hope anchor you that this is not the end of your story. Beautiful promises are ahead. You are not alone. ❤️✝️

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It was also the year that changed her, forced her to learn that she is not in control, and the year that “solidified that I can’t live this life without God.” She then reflected:

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Missing my baby so much ❤️. People keep saying, “you’re so strong” “how are you functioning?” “I wouldn’t be able to get out of bed.” I am broken. My heart will never be the same. I will never be the same. Yes, I have strong moments, but I also (as any grieving mother would do) cry, scream, question, and fall to my knees. Then I get back up and fight. I just want to share my journey with all of you because it will be a long road, and if we can help at least one person going through something like this, then it is worth it to me to be open about my feelings, my faith, my struggles. To any of you experiencing a loss of any kind (and maybe I’m just trying to remind myself here) – You can do this. You can grieve and still be strong for your family, husband and or other kiddos. Lean in to Him in your weakness and learn to not beat yourself up (like I do) when you are having a moment of calm. Shut out the negative and focus on the light and the love. ???? Be kind to those around you. Before you choose to judge or tear down, always try to encourage or lift people up. That person next to you, that car in front of you, that woman down the street, that man in your office, those kiddos in the store, you never know what kind of trials they are facing. Thank you all again for sharing your stories of loss with me, for lifting my family up through prayers and encouragement. YOU are the reasons for my strength at times and I’m so grateful. ♥️

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“I can’t believe it’s been almost 7 months since we held our sweet Riv and that we will be starting a new year without him physically with us. Through this sadness, I’m hopeful for all that is to come.”

The mom wrote that she is now looking forward to growing The River Kelly Fund, which they started following his passing so that they can help as many people as possible.

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Where do I even begin? This has been the most horrific, life-altering, soul-defining 2 weeks of our lives. We went from such a happy, fun-loving, exploring, dancing, party of 5, to hitting our knees, praying, asking why God, how God, and to losing our youngest son in a matter of minutes. It all happened so fast. We spent the next 2 days in the hospital praying that our little Riv would be healed. We had hundreds of prayer warriors behind us, but God had other plans for our angel, bigger plans. If you believe in our God like we do, we know now that Riv was sent to this Earth so we could experience his joy, laughter and love for 3 years. And then Jesus came and took his hand before he went under and took him home. God didn’t bring our little boy back to us, but God and Riv performed at least 2 other miracles that day for other mamas and daddies praying that someone would help save their child. Grief is such a strange thing. One minute you feel like you have the strength of a lion and you can handle what God has given you, the next you’re sitting by your son’s crib, holding his blanket and crying so hard that no tears or sound comes out, or punching your steering wheel crying and screaming at God, or smiling and laughing at the memories you have of such a special person. Sadness, anger, shock, questioning, fear, hope, the joy of remembering, emptiness, worry, heartbreak, trust in our faith – we feel all of this and more. But we also feel all of the prayers and love from every one of you who have reached out to us during this time. Our family, friends, fans and even strangers have brought us so much comfort and we cannot thank you enough. We’ve made a video updating you guys on how we are and wanted to share it with you, along with a video of River we shared at his service. Hold tight to your loved ones, as cliché as that sounds. You truly never know what life is going to throw at you. Love them fiercely, experience this beautiful life together and vow to live like Riv ♥️ Romans 8:28 ✝️ *Link in bio to watch our video

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Amber is also turning her focus to her daughter London and middle child Lincoln so that they can thrive despite losing their beloved little brother. “I hope to keep bringing people to the Kingdom and sharing the love of God that I have felt so strongly.”

RELATED: Country Singer Granger Smith Opens Up in Candid, Emotional Post About Three-Year-Old Son’s Tragic Death

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I’ve always known I wanted to be a donor if anything were to ever happen to me. I just felt that if I had viable organs, why would I go into the ground with them? My spirit would be in Heaven, so why not save a life if I could? Never in a million years did I think I would be making that decision for my baby. When 3 different neuro specialists told us that River had 0% chance of brain recovery (yes 0, not 10 or 1%, 0) after shock and reality set in, I thought, how can we bury our sweet baby and not try to help others? His body is perfect, his organs are perfect, we had to do something. There are so many people waiting for an organ to save their lives. The doctors said donation was quite a process. We would have to search for viable recipients and it could take days. We knew River’s spirit was in Heaven, but we couldn’t bear to watch his tiny, earthly body be pumped full of all the medicines for 3 or more more days while they searched. They tried to expedite the process so our family could be in peace, told us they would take him back to operate the next morning, but we wouldn’t know what organs could be used until after. With such a small body, organs had to be measured physically, not just by X-ray. I spent the night laying in bed with him, crying and talking to him while they kept running tests and taking blood. The next morning family and staff lined the hall for the “walk of honor”. We told them River liked to go fast, so to honor him, they pushed him down that hall faster than they had ever pushed anyone. Granger and I held each other and cried. We got the letter that our tiny, red-headed hero gave life to 2 adults. A 49 year old woman and a 53 year old man. I cried when we opened it. Cried out of sadness & cried out of love. I’m so proud to be River’s mama and I’m so grateful to God that he gave him to us for those incredible 3 years. I pray these 2 recipients live healthy, joy filled, full throttle lives just like Riv. It was one of the hardest, yet easiest, decisions we’ve ever made. There are over 113,000 people waiting for transplants & 20 people die each day waiting. Go to OrganDonor.gov to see how you can help give life as well. ❤️

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“Change is inevitable, heartache will come, trouble will come, the enemy will attack, but if we put on the armor of God, we will not be defeated. We can, and will, make it through anything that comes our way. […] I’m wishing all of you joy in the coming year. Know that as you head into a new decade, you are loved, you have purpose, you are stronger than you think, and you are never alone.”

Amber concluded, “Thank you for following along with us on this journey, for supporting our family, Granger’s music, and our healing. We really do appreciate all of your stories, messages, letters, and prayers.”

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