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Country Singer Opens Up About Day of 3-Year-Old Son's Death: 'Don't Feel Sorry For Us'

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In the wake of unexpected tragedy, it can be tough to remember how to smile. Grief is overwhelming and can tempt us to turn our backs on hope and faith. However, country music star Granger Smith is using his public platform to help others seek the light in the darkness.

Earlier this month, Smith announced sorrowful news to his friends and followers via a somber Instagram post.

“I have to deliver unthinkable news,” Smith wrote. “We’ve lost our youngest son, River Kelly Smith. Following a tragic accident, and despite doctor’s best efforts, he was unable to be revived.”

Three-year-old River died after drowning in an accident on the family’s Texas property.

“Our family is devastated and heartbroken, but we take solace in knowing he is with his Heavenly Father,” Smith wrote.

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“The joy he brought to our lives cannot be expressed and his light will be forever in our hearts. If there are words to say more, I cannot find them in this moment.”

View this post on Instagram

I have to deliver unthinkable news. We’ve lost our youngest son, River Kelly Smith. Following a tragic accident, and despite doctor’s best efforts, he was unable to be revived. Amber and I made the decision to say our last goodbyes and donate his organs so that other children will be given a second chance at life. Our family is devastated and heartbroken, but we take solace in knowing he is with his Heavenly Father. Riv was special. Everyone that met him knew that immediately. The joy he brought to our lives cannot be expressed and his light will be forever in our hearts. If there are words to say more, I cannot find them in this moment. Love the ones close to you. There has never been a more difficult moment for us than this. . . In lieu of flowers or gifts, please send donations to Dell Children’s Medical Center in River’s name. The doctors, nurses and staff have been incredible.

A post shared by Granger Smith (@grangersmith) on

The Smith family avoided social media as they began to work through their grief. Yesterday, Smith and his wife, Amber, broke their silence to post an emotional tribute to their late son on their YouTube channel.

The Smiths began the 30-minute video, aptly titled “Finding Light In Our Darkest Time,” with a few words about the importance of hanging tight to faith in moments of sorrow. Rather than ask their fans for sympathy, the couple delivered an unexpected message: “Don’t feel sorry for us.”

“We are going to search for every bit of good that we can find in this situation. The worst situation we’ve ever been through, hopefully ever,” Smith said. “We’re going to constantly search for ways that good will come out of this.”

View this post on Instagram

Nothing can prepare a mother to deliver this kind of news. We’ve lost our youngest son, River Kelly Smith. Following a tragic accident, and despite doctor’s best efforts, he was unable to be revived. Granger and I made the decision to say our last goodbyes and donate his organs so that other children will be given a second chance at life. Our family is devastated and heartbroken, but we take solace in knowing he is with his Heavenly Father. Riv was special. Everyone that met him knew that immediately. The joy he brought to our lives cannot be expressed and his light will be forever in our hearts. If there are words to say more, we cannot find them in this moment. Love the ones close to you. There has never been a more difficult moment for us than this. . . In lieu of flowers or gifts, please send donations to Dell Children’s Medical Center in River’s name. The doctors, nurses and staff have been incredible.

A post shared by Amber Smith 🦋 (@amberemilysmith) on

The Smiths’ faith in God has played a major role in allowing them to work through their grief. Although they admit that they’ll never understand the reason behind their son’s death, they believe that God wants them to search for the meaning River’s life held.

“In our belief, God gave us River for three years, and that was his mission,” Smith said. “I don’t believe that God takes anyone too soon.”

“I’m not going to play around in my mind that there’s this fictitious timeline of River graduating from college or high school or playing football,” he continued, “because I believe that he was put on this earth for that exact amount of time.”

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Smith recalled the moments preceding the accident. A few moments before tragedy struck, he was outside doing gymnastics with his 7-year-old daughter, London, while his two sons played with water guns.

Smith believes those precious moments hold the key to understanding God’s message about family and love.

View this post on Instagram

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!

A post shared by Granger Smith (@grangersmith) on

“I remember thinking, I was looking at London as she was doing gymnastics and I thought, ‘Soak up this moment, because it’s not going to last forever,'” Smith said. “Somewhere between 30 seconds and three minutes, we don’t know, Amber and I are inside our pool gate doing CPR on our son.'”

The couple urged their viewers to “soak up” family moments as they happen because no one can predict the future.

“Love those close to you. Soak up those moments. Live for today, live in the present, because we’re not guaranteed tomorrow,” they said.



When London asked her father how many days River had lived, Smith realized that he’d known his son for a little over 1,000 days. The thought made him consider life in a new way.

“What if you were given a gift of one thousand days on this earth, and you could live those days barefoot, red hair flying back on your go-kart, on your tractor, full speed ahead?” Smith said. “If you could do that, with your family around you, with no real cares in the world, that’s a good thousand days. That’s a good way to live.”

Smith said that he will continue seeking solace by creating music with his family by his side. He plans to bring his wife and two children, London and Lincoln Monarch, on tour with him.

View this post on Instagram

Happy Thanksgiving from our family to yours!

A post shared by Granger Smith (@grangersmith) on

“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,” Smith wrote in the video’s caption.

Before concluding their video with a touching video montage of their son, the Smiths left their viewers with a powerful and positive message.

“When you think of Riv, we want you to smile,” they said. “Live like Riv.”

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Noel Marquis is a journalist and animal-lover hailing from the Midwest. After an internship with Disney following her college graduation, she pursued a career writing content that makes readers smile. Coffee, books and superhero movies are some of her favorite things.




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