MANCHESTER, N.H. (CBS Local) — When a father of five died from COVID-19, nurses posted heartfelt notes in a hospital window to notify his family waiting outside. Now, the family is displaying their gratitude to those healthcare workers.

The handwritten signs “He is at peace” and “We are so sorry” broke the news Sunday to the five children of Rene Johnson that he had passed away. The siblings had been keeping a vigil in a park near Catholic Medical Center in Manchester, New Hampshire, for days in an effort to feel closer to their father.

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“Every day we would just try to do a little something different,” Johnson’s daughter, Angela Daneault, told WMUR. “Yesterday morning, me and my brother went and had breakfast in the park to try to feel close to our dad.”

The vigil brightened the spirits of hospital staff who say they are tired and incredibly sad.

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“They were kind of famous with our staff. Everyone would come in for their shift and say, ‘Oh is the family out there?’ And everyone would go to the window and wave,” nurse Lynn Harkins said.

“We told him, as we tell all our patients, how much they’re loved, that we’re here for them. We hold their hands and tell them — everything they tell us to tell them, we tell our patients,” nurse Kaitlyn Kerrigan said.

The family is now turning grief to gratitude by keeping the vigils going.

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“There’s people in there that really need somebody. I’m going to make signs. We’re going to give them food. They’re going to see balloons,” Kevin Johnson said.