Country Music Star Granger Smith Opens Up About His Guilt One Year After His 3 Year-Old Son Drowned
Country music star Granger Smith opened up this week about the guilt he feels and the prospect of forgiving himself one year after his 3 year-old son River died in a tragic drowning accident.
Smith and his wife Amber sat down with People to talk about their healing journey over the past year, and the guilt that they still feel to this day.
“[Returning to performing after River’s death] was terrible. But I knew that would be a critical part of my healing process, and my gut instinct was right,” Smith said, adding that the worst part was thinking that the audience was “staring at me like, ‘There’s the failed father up there.'”
Smith added that even though he knows he did everything he could to save River, he still feels a ton of guilt.
“I know that there’s going to be a time when I’m going to forgive myself, but I’m not there yet,” he said, with Amber adding, “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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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.
On the night of June 4, 2019, Smith was playing outside with his three young children while Amber took a shower.
While focusing on his older two children, Smith did not see River breach the pool fence gate’s child-proof lock and head to the water.
“It’s not like the movies,” said Smith.
“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.”
Since River’s death, Smith and his wife have been leaning on their Christian faith.
“For me, that’s pretty much all I’ve had,” said Smith.
“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.”
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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!
In the end, Smith said that his grief journey has caused him to “truly shed layers.”
“I feel wiser. I feel more in tune spiritually,” he explained. “I feel more aware of our present moment and the value in the present moment, the value in the current breath that we have.”