Granger and Amber Smith Say their Christian Faith is their Strength After Losing Son

Photo via Amber Smith Instagram

Granger and Amber Smith Say their Christian Faith is their Strength After Losing Son

By Allyson Vannatta, Senior Writer

Country music singer Granger Smith and his wife, Amber, told PEOPLE magazine that their faith has been their strength since their son, River, tragically died just over a year ago in a freak drowning accident.

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

Granger’s words echo scripture that tells us we must die to ourselves in order to be alive in Christ. By recognizing this, Granger says he has grown in his relationship with the Lord.

He added, “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.”

Since that tragic day in June 2019, Granger and Amber have done a few things to try to grapple with their grief.

Talking about his faith, Granger said, “For me, that’s pretty much all I’ve had. 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.”

Amber said she has, “Never felt closer to God than I did from the night of the accident on. I’ve never felt that he has left me or forsaken me.”

Last month, Amber shared a post on Instagram marking the one-year mark of their loss. Part of the caption reads, “God is still good. Exactly 1 year later, today, we close on our new land. The timing is not lost on me. God is guiding us and I feel Riv with us every step of the way.”


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One last date of the previous year to get through. June 11, 2019. We laid River to rest this day one year ago. I remember having to pick out his clothes for him to be buried in. No one should ever have to do that. I was in such a fog, such a state of shock still from the previous few days. How was this happening? This can’t be real. I carried his little clothes (lightning mcqueen shirt & jeans – we decided he needed to be barefoot like he always was) to the funeral home and then had to look through a booklet of caskets. Tiny caskets. So small. So devastating. They only had 3 to choose from and none of them were right. One brown, one cherry wood and one baby blue. All wrong. I remember thinking well maybe we can get the brown one and sand it, make it more “woodsy” like Riv or just get a ton of wildflowers for the top. I settled on the brown one and left with tears. I told myself he wasn’t there, he was with Jesus so the casket didn’t matter. But deep down it still did. Our funeral director could tell I wasn’t happy and he called me right after we left (my amazing friend Kelly was by my side the whole time, my other incredible friends were shopping for my funeral dress because I couldn’t). He said, “we can get you a custom casket in time for the service. A lightning mcqueen casket.” 😭😭😭 This was Riv. This was God. I felt God all around me so close during those weeks. He was holding me. He was showing me signs he was with us. The veil between heaven and earth was thin. The casket, our unbelievable friends and family who came from all over to be with us, our incredible church, the amazing Williamson county police department for guiding us, the “just his size” rainbow on a June day in Texas at the service. As painful as it was, there was a peace. God is still good. Exactly 1 year later, today, we close on our new land. The timing is not lost on me. God is guiding us and I feel Riv with us every step of the way. He would have loved this land. Today marks a new day, new adventures for the Smith family. I will continue to fight, continue to trust and continue to grow. We miss you so much Riv. We love you. We can do this. ❤️✝️🦋⚡️🎈🦖🚜🏠🌈🌧

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

Related: Country Singer Granger Smith’s Wife: I Can’t Live This Life Without God

The couple also created the River Kelly Fund.

The mission statement says, “We hope to shine our light on those that provide support and bring awareness to causes including children in need, arts and education, wildlife preservation, military, veteran and first responder assistance, donor affiliations and many more organizations close to our hearts.”

As they continue to navigate through their guilt, both Granger and Amber hope and pray that one day they’ll be able to forgive themselves for the death of their son.

“I know that there’s going to be a time when I’m going to forgive myself, but I’m not there yet,” Granger said.

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.”

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