Grieving family honors son during holidays

Posted at 2:07 PM, Dec 22, 2016
and last updated 2018-07-24 21:30:35-04

A Belton family who lost their 13-year-old son in November is trying to honor him this holiday.

Richard Snyder died last month in a hit-and run accident. Police said a pickup truck hit him while he was riding his bicycle in the 2100 block of Interstate 35's frontage road.  The driver of the pickup truck Ronal Norwood, 61, faces charges for leaving the scene. 

Richard's parents, Richard Sr. and Hollie said their son enjoyed celebrating the holiday season, in part because he spent time with family.

“It has been difficult to face the reality that we can't buy gifts for him and when all of this happened, it was just his birthday. We couldn't give him gifts for his birthday,” Hollie said.

The family will not put a bird ornament on their Christmas tree because Richard did that every year. The 50-year-old ornament was made by Hollie's deceased brother when he was in kindergarten.

Her brother passed away when she was a child and she put the bird on the tree every year at her house.

"When I got my house, [my mother] gave me the bird and then when I had Richard, he put the bird in the tree and now the bird is on the coffee table because there is nobody to put a bird in the tree," Hollie said.

Heart of Texas Counseling Center Program Director Elizabeth Timmons said during birthdays or the holidays, families may remember those who passed away more.

"If you're sad, it's OK to be sad. If you want to talk about that person, find someone you can talk to about this person. Often times, it may help someone in the family also to talk about that person,” Timmons said.

She said those who know a grieving family should not try to avoid mentioning the deceased person.

"I think it's important to ask because not talking about somebody is not to acknowledge they were an important part of your life," Timmons said.

In addition, she said it is important to recognize and respect how someone grieves.

"I think it's really important when you know someone is experiencing grief to ask them 'what do you need' and 'what would be helpful for you to get through the holidays'. Maybe it's a visit to the cemetery if someone has died or memorialize the person that they've lost,” Timmons said.

Snyder’s family is thankful for the support they have received from the community and the school district.

The Snyders are remembering their son by having Christmas this year with their 14 and 20-year-old daughters. In addition, they bought gifts for a child that would not have    received presents otherwise.

"He is so happy and was always willing to help someone out and loved the holidays. If I was not going to do that, I wouldn't be honoring my son,” Richard Snyder Sr. said.Furthermore, his family is honoring him by leading an effort to install sidewalks near the area where he died to increase pedestrian safety.  

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