On August 1, Granger Smith released his second book titled Like a River: Finding the Faith and Strength to Move Forward after Loss and Heartache. It’s a book that should come with a box of tissues (or two), considering he details the raw story of his 3-year-old son, River, who died in a drowning accident in 2019.
Rivers’ death was a tragedy he and his wife, Amber Smith, weren’t prepared for. In a new interview with TODAY, Granger explained how his son’s death made him question his faith and ultimately realize that his faith was weak. “It wasn’t until a half a year later when faith actually became a saving grace,” he said.
In an effort to restore his faith, Smith revealed his desire to pursue ministry in an Instagram video in April. In that same video, he announced that his latest tour (which commenced on April 13 and ends on August 26) will be the last of his career – officially ending his country music career after 30 years in the industry.
“I keep a journal. When I put in a new entry, I’ll go ahead and read the last four entries from the last four years and I’ve been tracking this idea of: ‘Man, this touring thing — how much longer do I have it in me to look for fulfillment on stage?” he said of his decision to retire from touring and begin a new chapter in life.
It wasn’t until he started writing his newest book that he decided to pursue ministry and it was a decision that came as no surprise to his wife. “Going through what we did, it just truly opened our eyes to see what’s important — faith and family,” Amber Smith tells TODAY – she knew a change was necessary.
As for his book, Granger Smith said there are two chapters that were especially difficult to write – Chapter One, which tells the story of him finding his son drowning in their pool, and Chapter Seven, which talks about the night Granger almost killed himself – something he has never told anyone, not even his wife.
“I waited (to tell her) — of my own shame, really — until I was literally pitching the proposal to publishers for the book,” he said of the moment he decided to tell his wife about his suicidal thoughts. “Of course, she cried and said: ‘I’m so sorry I wasn’t there for you.’ But that’s my own fault — I didn’t bring her in.”
Granger Smith Praises Wife for Not Blaming Him Over River’s Death
In 2019, Granger Smith was outside doing gymnastics with his daughter, London, while two of his sons – River and Lincoln – were having a water gun fight. When Granger wasn’t looking, his 3-year-old son, River, squeezed through their pool gate to fill up his water gun when he accidentally fell in the pool.
The little boy was rushed to Dell Children’s Medical Center in Austin, Texas and spent two days there before passing away – his organs were donated to help save lives. In his interview with TODAY, Granger praised his wife for not blaming him since he was the one who was outside when his son fell in the pool.
“I have to give credit to Amber, because I was the one in the backyard when he went into the pool,” he said. “Easily, at any moment, she could have said: ‘How could you have turned your back on our baby?’ And if she did, just once, that would have put a slice in my soul that was irreparable, but she didn’t.”
Instead of blaming him, Amber chose to blame herself. Earlier that day, Granger asked her if she could take the boys inside after dinner, but she said no. “I had a long day, I wanted to take a shower and I just needed a break. So thinking back, it was like: ‘It’s my fault: I should have taken the boys inside,'” she said.
If you’d like to hear more about River’s story and how his death impacted the family, then I suggest you go read Like a River: Finding the Faith and Strength to Move Forward after Loss and Heartache by Granger Smith. Just make sure you have a box of tissues nearby because you’ll definitely need it.
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