Country singer Granger Smith and his wife Amber Bartlett are still grieving the loss of their 3-year-old son, River.
As Dearly previously reported, River passed away on June 6 following “a drowning accident” at their Texas home. Granger and Amber revealed the news with the public on their respective Instagram accounts:
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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.
Following the statement, both Granger and Amber took time away from social media to spend time with their family to mourn River’s death.
Then, 13 days later, the couple took to YouTube to share how they are feeling. Granger and Amber began by first thanking their fans for all of the messages and letters they have been receiving.
The parents then explained why they decided to film the video:
“There’s a lot of people who watched Riv on ‘The Smiths’ [YouTube channel] … There’s a lot of people that he affected, so it’s important to not stay dark forever and to come back on social media.”
Granger later talked about River’s memorial service and how hard it was for him and Amber to stand up in front of their family and friends, but knew it was important for them to let their loved ones know how they were doing.
The couple added that they have also been in touch with other parents, including celebrity parents, who have lost a child to accidental drowning as well. They said the feeling of not being alone has been helpful for them:
“It’s only been two weeks, but it has been a journey and we’re still learning every day. As we said in the service, first we want to thank the first responders. … I definitely have a new understanding of how that works and then, same goes for the hospital.”
“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. … That’s my commitment to River’s legacy.”
The parents then remembered the day River passed away.
As Granger and Amber sat under a tree in their yard, Granger said “it was actually a night like this”:
“I was outside, playing with London, we were doing gymnastics in the yard. And the boys were playing water gun fight. And I remember thinking, I was looking at London as she was doing gymnastics, and I thought, ‘Soak up this moment.’ I just had this thought, ‘Soak up this moment because it’s not going to last forever.’ Somewhere between 30 seconds and three minutes, we don’t know, Amber and I are inside our pool gate doing CPR on our son.
And I think the platform that we immediately stand for is love those close to you, soak up those moments, live for today, live in the present because we’re not guaranteed tomorrow. What happened to us that night defied all possibilities and we believe, in our belief, that God gave us River for three years and that was his mission. I don’t believe that God takes anyone too soon.”
But the most important thing Granger and Amber want people to take away from this video, in particular, is that they are committed “to each other, our family, our kids, our faith.”
Overcome with emotion, Granger asked his fans not to feel sorry for them:
“Because we feel very blessed. We had an incredible little boy for three years. We feel really good about that. And we feel really good about our other kids and their state of mind right now.”
The dad concluded by saying, “When you think of Riv, I want you to smile.”
Amber also took to Instagram to share a little bit more about how she’s been feeling these last 14 days on Instagram.
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Where do I even begin? This has been the most horrific, life-altering, soul-defining 2 weeks of our lives. We went from such a happy, fun-loving, exploring, dancing, party of 5, to hitting our knees, praying, asking why God, how God, and to losing our youngest son in a matter of minutes. It all happened so fast. We spent the next 2 days in the hospital praying that our little Riv would be healed. We had hundreds of prayer warriors behind us, but God had other plans for our angel, bigger plans. If you believe in our God like we do, we know now that Riv was sent to this Earth so we could experience his joy, laughter and love for 3 years. And then Jesus came and took his hand before he went under and took him home. God didn’t bring our little boy back to us, but God and Riv performed at least 2 other miracles that day for other mamas and daddies praying that someone would help save their child. Grief is such a strange thing. One minute you feel like you have the strength of a lion and you can handle what God has given you, the next you’re sitting by your son’s crib, holding his blanket and crying so hard that no tears or sound comes out, or punching your steering wheel crying and screaming at God, or smiling and laughing at the memories you have of such a special person. Sadness, anger, shock, questioning, fear, hope, the joy of remembering, emptiness, worry, heartbreak, trust in our faith – we feel all of this and more. But we also feel all of the prayers and love from every one of you who have reached out to us during this time. Our family, friends, fans and even strangers have brought us so much comfort and we cannot thank you enough. We’ve made a video updating you guys on how we are and wanted to share it with you, along with a video of River we shared at his service. Hold tight to your loved ones, as cliché as that sounds. You truly never know what life is going to throw at you. Love them fiercely, experience this beautiful life together and vow to live like Riv ♥️ Romans 8:28 ✝️ *Link in bio to watch our video
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, from 2005 to 2014, there were roughly ten unintentional drowning incidents per day:
About one in five people who die from drowning are children 14 and younger. For every child who dies from drowning, another five receive emergency department care for nonfatal submersion injuries.