Country star Granger Smith’s kids saved him from ‘rock bottom’ after losing son

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Granger Smith is helping his community talk about grief.

The “Up Toward the Light” author, who traded in his 24-year country music career last year to pursue a future in ministry, remembered hitting a “rock bottom moment” and going into a very dark place shortly after the death of his 3-year-old son River in 2019. Smith is also releasing a children’s book, targeted at kids ages 4 to 8, in hopes of helping children and parents navigate grief and loss.

With the help of his two sons, Smith saw the “ray of light” he needed to continue fighting not only for his own life, but also for his family following their tragic loss.

“I thought of my children, Lincoln and London, the ones that I had. I lost my son River,” he exclusively told Fox News Digital. “I had Lincoln and London, and I saw their faces, and during a moment when I just wanted to end my life, I thought about them. And there was such a radiance of joy.”

COUNTRY MUSIC SINGER GRANGER SMITH TURNED TO FAITH DURING DARKEST TIMES: ‘IT SAVED MY LIFE’

Granger Smith portrait shot

Granger Smith detailed the ebbs and flows of grief in his new book, “Up Toward the Light.” (Granger Smith)

He added, “God’s gift to me was them, and to know that they needed me as a father was a powerful understanding.”

“It sounds kind of obvious when I said it that way, but man, when the walls are closing in, and you’re in the darkness – any ray of light you can take is a godsend.”

The Smith family was outside their home when River slipped through their pool gate and drowned in their pool. River was quickly pulled out of the water, but was without oxygen for too long and died at a hospital two days later. Lincoln and London both witnessed the accident.

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GRANGER SMITH AND WIFE AMBER MADE ‘AGREEMENT’ ON HOW TO STAY TOGETHER AFTER DEATH OF THEIR 3-YEAR-OLD SON

Since the accident, Smith and his wife Amber have become outspoken advocates for children’s water safety and donated $200,000 to the hospital that treated River. In August 2021, they also welcomed another little one into the family when Amber gave birth to son Maverick.

Granger Smith performing on stage wearing a denim shirt while holding a guitar

Granger Smith performed for decades before wrapping up life as a country music singer in April 2023. (Randy Holmes)

“It sounds kind of obvious when I said it that way, but man, when the walls are closing in, and you’re in the darkness – any ray of light you can take is a godsend.”

— Granger Smith

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Smith has since put pen to paper for his latest work, “Up Toward the Light.” The book details his family’s tragic loss and how Smith found peace and healing by turning to his faith. 

Granger Smith with his wife and children

Granger Smith with wife Amber and children Maverick, London and Lincoln. (Granger Smith)

Granger admitted that in the beginning, grief feels a lot like “survival” and being able to “take the next breath.”

“A lot of times the more you love someone, the more you’ll grieve them,” he said. “So if you’re someone that loves anyone a lot, then you’re going to grieve them a lot if you lose them. So the alternative to that is suppressing your love and not giving out love, and no one wants to do that. That’s that’s ridiculous. 

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WATCH: GRANGER SMITH DISCUSS ‘WAVES OF GRIEF’ FELT AFTER TRAUMATIC LOSS

“So we love fiercely like that. We love with full intention. And then we need to be prepared for the consequences of that if we lose them, which is a heavy grief.”

He added, “There is a peace in knowing that that heavy grief is a result of the love, and that if you didn’t have the love, you wouldn’t grieve. And then you kind of carry that burden with you a little bit, and you go, ‘OK, I carry this burden because of the love I had.’ And that makes it special, and it’s easier to endure that way, knowing why you’re carrying that burden.”

A photo of the cover of Granger Smith's book, "Up Toward the Light"

Granger Smith announced the release of his new book on Instagram. (Granger Smith/Instagram)

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The “Backroad Song” musician said that grief is not all encompassing, and day by day gets easier, but you have to show up each day.

“A lot of times the more you love someone, the more you’ll grieve them.”

— Granger Smith

“All I got to do is make it through today. And if you go, ‘That might be too much.’ Then you go, ‘Just this next hour’ or maybe, ‘Just this next minute.’ And so that’s the beginning,” he said. 

“That’s the very beginning. That’s the first thing I had to realize, and then I felt as I was analyzing grief, that it does come in waves and everything in life comes in waves, even sound and light. It’s all waveforms. And the same thing with grief. And if you recognize that – it’s very powerful to recognize that grief comes in waves, especially if you’re journaling it, and you’re kind of keeping a little record of it because you could recognize a couple of things.”

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WATCH: GRANGER SMITH HOPES NEW BOOK CAN HELP OTHERS STRUGGLING WITH GRIEF

One thing Smith has learned throughout this process is there is power in numbers and to reach out to friends for help.

“There’s something about knowing the process, knowing that this is something everyone goes through, that everyone that loves goes through,” he said. “There’s a community around me. I know that this hurts, but physically it hurts. But I also understand that mentally there’s a way out of this. 

“There’s a light at the end of the tunnel. This book hopefully gets people thinking about their loss, and kind of outside themselves in analyzing this grief.”

Up Toward the Light, by Granger Smith

Granger Smith’s latest book, “Up Toward the Light.” (Granger Smith)

For his new children’s book, Granger revisited a “pretty impactful” skill he learned in therapy where he simply talked to a tree – something which was completely unbiased and could only listen.

“That’s exactly what I thought of. Like, this is weird, but as I kind of went out there and settled in, it was very therapeutic,” he said. 

“And so then I thought, well. What if there was a book that was kind of mimicking that situation in a kid’s view, where maybe the kid lost his grandpa, and he wants to talk to … he wants to talk to this tree about his grandpa. And somehow the tree has this wisdom that he couldn’t have found talking to anyone else. That’s literally what happened to me. And that was the inspiration behind the book.”

“Up Toward the Light” is set to be released on April 2, 2024.

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