A Year After Losing His Son in a Drowning Incident, Granger Smith Is Opening Up About How It Changed Him

On June 4, 2019, country singer Granger Smith and his wife, actress Amber Smith, endured the unimaginable when their young son, River Kelly, unexpectedly passed away. River was just 3 years old when he was playing “water gunfight” with his older brother, as Granger did gymnastics with their only daughter in the year.

As Granger has explained in their many YouTube videos, within minutes of that moment, a moment in which Granger remembered telling himself to take in, River was found in the pool in their backyard by his parents. It’s believed River could have been in the pool anywhere from 30 seconds to three minutes.

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

Sadly, River did not survive falling in the pool, despite the child-proof lock on the gate and knowing how to swim. Now, Granger is opening up one year after his son’s passing and sharing how the events that transpired last year changed him in a new interview with People.

“I feel like I’ve died,” Granger said. “It’s not a bad thing that that ‘me’ died. In fact, I think it’s all good. It’s only good.”

As the father continued, he told People that as a result of “dying,” he feels like he’s “truly shed layers. I feel wiser. I feel more in tune spiritually. I feel more aware of our present moment and the value in the present moment, the value in the current breath that we have.”

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We’ve been on quite the journey these past few weeks. I’ve been dark on social media, but I still have a full understanding of the responsibility placed upon me as a public figure. I can choose to snuff that influence, or instead use my platform (in relevancy big or small) towards what I believe is right. I believe I’m obligated on certain levels to include you guys in my current journey, as I’ve been involved either personally or musically in yours. – The finality and mortality brought on by death makes life feel fragile. It can weaken, terrify and separate those close to it. But it can also awaken us. It can remind us never to take a moment with those we love for granted. – In my house, we have united stronger and closer than we’ve ever been. We’ve cried. We’ve smiled. I’ve held my family tight. I’ve found strength from God and used that in the face of adversity so that my wife and children can rely on me. I’ve guarded my heart and my mind during weak moments and graciously accepted all of the encouragement and empathy from so many. I have realized that I will not slave over a search for answers, but instead for meaning. I will focus and then cultivate the light from a dark place, the good from the bad, God’s will from my own plans. I can rest assured knowing that River’s assignment on earth was always intended for 1116 days and not only did he live it to the fullest, but he lived it loved by so many, including a mother, father, sister and brother who held nothing back and have no regrets on how much he felt that love. We should all be so blessed to be able to live like Riv. – Amber and I want you to hear it from us and not just read it, so we made this little video for you to watch. (Link in bio)Thank you for all the love, prayers and support. We feel it!

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But despite learning and growing, that doesn’t mean Granger still isn’t broken as a result of River’s passing. “It’s not like the movies,” he said.

“To comprehend that you could lose someone to drowning 20 feet from you doesn’t make any sense unless you know how that process works and that it’s so silent. There isn’t splashing or gurgling or kicking. There wasn’t even a splash going in.” And there are so many what-ifs.

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UPDATE!! @cast_watersafety_foundation has offered TEN MORE life jackets! I’m so grateful they are using their pain to help others as well!! Thank you @cast_watersafety_foundation ❤️???????? please head to their page to read about their mission. ———- It’s Memorial Day weekend and there will be lots of water play, swimming, and outdoor activities. I’m posting this as a plea make sure you are safe around water. We used to love swimming, but I wish I would have taken EXTRA safety measures for our family. For one, we always used puddle jumpers. I wasn’t aware of the dangers of them (I posted an article about this in my stories and water safety highlights). Please use coastguard approved life jackets if you must, on boats and open water, etc. I also wish we would have enrolled in swim survival lessons and done it sooner. Children can learn to float and should be enrolled in survival lessons at an early age. I wish I would have had an extra lock on our gate or a pool alarm. So many what ifs. Water is fun but it is also so dangerous. I will never look at water the same again. I don’t think I will ever enjoy a pool again. I’m open and vulnerable because I don’t want this to happen to anyone else. ???? . . Today I’m teaming up with @camikesler_np (pediatric nurse practitioner) because MAY is National Water Safety month and as we head into the holidays, keeping our little kids safe is the goal of every parent! We are giving away a $100 Amazon gift card to help you buy a Coast Guard approved life jacket. ???????? Follow along in our #instastories as we share some ????#pediatricpearls to help keep your kiddos #watersafe AND to find a way to gain extra entries! . . HOW TO ENTER: 1. LIKE this post 2. Follow @camikesler_np for more tips! 3.TAG friends below in separate comments (more tags = more entries and more awareness!! 3. REPOST story / this post for extra entry and tag me. . . Giveaway ends Monday May 25th at midnight, MST #watersafety ❤️

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What if they had a second child-proof lock, what if an alarm sounded the second the lock was unlatched? Would River still be here today?

Although EMTs were able to find a heartbeat after arriving at the home, River had already suffered catastrophic brain damage. The 3-year-old was taken off life support two days later and his organs were donated to two donor recipients. And the sales from t-shirts commemorating his life allowed Granger and Amber to donate $218,000 to the children’s hospital that attempted to save his life.

These are just a few of the steps Granger and Amber have taken in order to find purpose in River’s unexpected passing. And when it comes to forgiving himself, Granger still isn’t there yet.

“I know that there’s going to be a time when I’m going to forgive myself, but I’m not there yet,” he told People before Amber added: “I don’t know if we ever truly will be able to forgive ourselves. I pray that we can. I hope we can.” Their faith, Granger reveals, has been their biggest source of strength.

“My brain is not capable of calculating that magnitude of a loss, and then I have to realize that I don’t have to. I can lean on a higher power for that and know that my little boy is in a better place.”

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

And although the family has relocated twice since River’s death, they don’t believe they’ll ever find their “forever home” again. “We only really have today,” Granger told People and make the most of the memories happening now.

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