How I Told Kids How Their Brother Drowned

This is a difficult conversation. Country singer Granger SmithHe and his wife. Amber Smith, wanted to be open with their children in the wake of their son River’s death.

“We had to be very honest from the very beginning,” the Texas native, 40, explained on during an appearance on the “Meaning Full Lives” podcast earlier this month. Amber and Granger, 42, lost their 3-year-old son in 2019 after he drowned in the family’s pool. “We went home [from the hospital]With the intention of being completely honest [with our two older children]. We said, ‘River was without oxygen for too long. They tried everything they could, but Bubbie passed away.’”

She added that they also let daughter London, now 10, and son Lincoln, now 8, “process their emotions” with support and guidance. “We … told them that whatever they’re feeling … it’s OK.”

The “Holler” singer and Amber, who welcomed son Maverick in August 2021, have become outspoken advocates for water safety in the years since losing their son. In April, Granger posted a video from their youngest son’s Infant Swim Rescue lesson, noting that while the infant could “barely crawl,” he was now able to “hold his breath, twist his body, find the air, float on his back and cry. … He has the skills to float until help comes.”

The musician continued: “He’s a warrior and doesn’t even realize it. He’s an example for many families who see this video. Only one person is required to see this video and listen to my plea. Children aged 4 and below drown the most. … Spread the word. River’s life mattered. He’s saving thousands of others. Hear me.”

In his post, Granger noted that he struggled to attend Maverick’s ICR classes “due to my own vulnerabilities,” which Amber echoed in a post of her own. “Guys, I get it. It can be frightening to see a video of a baby crying and being led into a body water. You know what’s scarier and more painful? Losing a child to a fatal drowning,” she wrote at the time, along with some photos from the little one’s lessons. “This wasn’t easy for me. Seeing him cry those first few lessons, I wanted to scoop him right up, but I trusted the process and I watched as it worked every step of the way!”

She added, “We made the decision to give Maverick the skills he needed to find the air, the skills River needed that we didn’t know about, and my goodness, he did it!!”

In addition to spreading the word about ICR classes and water safety, the couple made sure that River’s memory lived on through their youngest son. “I really wanted ‘Riv’ to be in the name, whatever name we picked, I wanted ‘Riv’ to be a part of [it],” Amber recalled in a May 2021 YouTube video, in which she and Granger explained how Maverick’s name is a tribute to his late brother. “I wanted this baby to have his own identity, and I didn’t want him to be so tied to River. But I did want him to have a little piece of his brother in his name.”

The twosome settled on Maverick Beckham. “His middle name, essentially means ‘home by the river.’ So Maverick Beckham Smith is the newest Smith, coming with a vengeance, kicking like crazy!”

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