'I think people need this': Hours from reopening, N.B. family reflects on loss and lessons learned

The last 499 days have featured upheaval, isolation and for 46 families – the loss of a loved one.

Now, in light of the province moving to the green phase of recovery, some are preparing funerals and memorial services, hoping to heal from their loss with friends and family around them.

"When you're not able to hold someone's hand when they're dying, man, it's a new experience," said Peter Lewis. "It's a really, really sad experience. It really is."

Lewis lost his mother, Joan Davis, to the virus. Almost 80 years old, Davis contracted the virus during an outbreak at her nursing home in Saint John.

Lewis is in favour of the full reopening, especially so the family can gather again with their larger support system.

"I think people need this," he said. "I think we need to reconnect, I think people have to move forward. I mean, this was a tragedy for a lot of families, including ours. But we're going to the green phase tomorrow and I just think it's a real opportunity for everybody."

Lewis says they're planning his mothers' service for September.

Premier Blaine Higgs said Friday it's a reminder of what matters most.

"Family's important. And we could all find the time in our lives when we said, 'Oh yeah, I'll do that next week.' I'm as guilty at that as anyone. But it is important to take that extra few moments," he said.

Lewis encourages people to appreciate the moments they can have with loved ones.

"I would say the biggest reflection is, especially if you've got senior parents: spend time with them. Talk to them. Enjoy their company. Because tragedies like this, can happen."