Girl, 19, discovers her late grandfather watering his garden on Google Street View images

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Why bereaved relatives are turning to Google Maps for comfort: Girl, 19, discovers her late grandfather watering his garden while woman spots her dead father mowing the lawn as lost relatives live on in Street View images

  • Founded in 2005, Google Maps has primarily served as a satellite imagery service providing panoramic views of streets across the world 
  • However, the immersive tool can offer a completely different service all together – the chance to re-live the everyday lives of deceased loved ones
  • Three years after her grandfather and grandmother passed away, a nostalgic Luisa Hoenle, 19, decided to revisit the home of her grandparents 
  • Her grandfather, Siegfried, died in 2016 at the age of 93 from cancer, but in the years before his death he was an avid gardener 
  • The Switzerland-based art student noticed a familiar figure to the property’s left-hand side: her grandfather, dressed in overalls, a year before his death
  • ‘It was incredible to see him standing there, exactly as I remember him,’ Hoenle told the blog Okay Whatever on Friday 

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For the past 14 years, Google Maps has primarily served as a satellite imagery service providing panoramic views of streets across the world, but for the recently bereaved the immersive tool can offer a completely different service all together: the chance to revisit the everyday lives of deceased loved ones.

Three years after her grandfather and grandmother passed away, a nostalgic Luisa Hoenle, 19, found herself browsing the internet one day when she decided to revisit the home her grandparents built together and lived in for decades.

Her grandfather, Siegfried, died in 2016 at the age of 93 from cancer. But in the years before his death he was an avid gardener, attending to the myriad of plants, bushes and trees which frequented his lawn on an almost daily basis.

Hoping to catch a glimpse of the home in its prime, long before Siegfried’s plants since withered and died, Hoenle dropped the Google Street View pin onto her grandparents’ road for a virtual stroll down memory lane.

However, edging her way up to the two-story, white brick, brown roofed home, the Switzerland-based art student noticed a familiar figure standing among a green patch to the property’s left-hand side: her grandfather, dressed in overalls and green gardening gloves, a year before his death.

‘It was incredible to see him standing there, exactly as I remember him,’ Hoenle recalled for the blog Okay Whatever on Friday.

For the past 15 years, Google Maps may have primarily served as a satellite imagery service providing panoramic views of streets across the world, but for the recently bereaved the immersive tool can offer a completely different service all together – the chance to re-live the everyday lives of deceased loved ones (pictured: Hoenle’s grandfather Seigfried standing in his yard a year before his death, as capture by Google)

Girl, 19, discovers her late grandfather watering his garden on Google Street View images

Three years after her grandfather and grandmother passed away, a nostalgic Luisa Hoenle, 19, found herself browsing the internet one day when she decided to revisit the home her grandparents built together and lived in for decades

The 19-year-old admitted the photos may seem unremarkable to anyone else: the image is grainy, and Siegfried’s face has been pixelated – as Google does with all faces, license plates and addresses.

But for Hoenle, the snapshots of Siegfried turning to gaze his head towards the passing Google truck, and then losing interest and returning his attention to his plants, provides her a priceless glimpse into the everyday life of a man who no longer exists.

‘Found my grandpa on google maps, doing what he loved. He passed away two years ago due to cancer.

He was the best Abuelito ever,’ she posting the images to Reddit.

Hoenle shared her discovery on the subReddit r/LastImages, and quickly found she wasn’t alone in her unearthing of deceased relatives on Street View.

Last year, a woman in Taiwan was left in tears after she spotted her mother pictured at their home in Google Street View, four years after she died.

Much to her surprise, Danny Wu was able to find her mother tending to the plants on their porch, immortalized on the search engine’s satellite imagery.

Girl, 19, discovers her late grandfather watering his garden on Google Street View images

Hoping to catch a glimpse of the home in its prime, Hoenle dropped the Google Street View pin onto her grandparents’ road for a virtual stroll down memory lane and saw her grandfather tending to the garden, a year before his death

‘I’ve been looking for you for so long, Mum,’ Wu said in her Facebook post sharing the snapshots. ‘Turns out you have been home all this time.’

‘I went on Google Street View … and I actually found my mum,’ she said in the post in November.

The pictures show the woman, with her face blurred, sitting on the porch of their home, appearing to be looking at the Google Street View car as it drove past.

‘Mum, nothing much, we’re all doing well,’ the elated daughter wrote. ‘It’s just that we miss you very much.’

Wu, 43, told MailOnline that her mother had passed away from colon cancer in September 2014.

‘I just wanted to cry when I saw her,’ she said. ‘I never thought I’d be able to see my mother again.’

‘It was a complete surprise to see her right in front of our home,’ she added.

Girl, 19, discovers her late grandfather watering his garden on Google Street View images

A woman living in Taiwan was left in tears after she spotted her mother pictured at their home in Google Street view, four years after she passed away from colon cancer

Girl, 19, discovers her late grandfather watering his garden on Google Street View images Girl, 19, discovers her late grandfather watering his garden on Google Street View images

‘I went on Google Street View … and I actually found my mum,’ she said in her post on Sunday

Girl, 19, discovers her late grandfather watering his garden on Google Street View images

Another user, Shengchieh Chen, said he found the scooter that his grandfather used to ride outside of their home on Google Street views

Similarly, British expat Denise Underhill, who moved to Florida from Tamworth, Staffordshire, was suddenly overcome with an urge to revisit her old home in the UK back in 2017, so she turned to Google’s satellite mapping service.

Girl, 19, discovers her late grandfather watering his garden on Google Street View images

‘It was incredible to see him standing there, exactly as I remember him,’ Hoenle recalled for the blog Okay Whatever on Friday

‘As I went about my housework, I somehow instantaneously had the impulse to call my mother but realizing that it was completely out of the question,’ she told the Tamworth Herald at the time.

‘I decided to Google Earth my mother’s home to see how it looked, considering since she had passed away in 2015 and the property had been sold.’

But Underhill said she was left aghast to see her mother walking down the street clutching a watering can.

‘At the foot of the driveway was my mother. She was watering the garden, just as she always did.”

‘I think someone wanted me to see this,’ she said.

For many years, Bill Frankel, of Kentucky, visited his father on Street View, hoping to alleviate the grief and guilt he felt placing his father in a retirement facility a few years before his death.

‘Being able to check in on Dad in the yard (even virtually) helped mitigate the guilt we felt for taking him out of his element,’ Franel wrote in an essay for Narratively’s Modern Loss. ‘It was as if he spent the past few years at home.’

Girl, 19, discovers her late grandfather watering his garden on Google Street View images

British expat Denise Underhill said she was left aghast to see her mother – who had passed away in 2015 – walking down the street clutching a watering can

In neighborhoods across the world, Google’s Street View cars inadvertently capture the lives of everyday people carrying out everyday tasks, from children riding their bicycles to school, to postal workers carrying out their afternoon deliveries.

Though there has, at times, also been unsavory discoveries on the application. For instance, a man in California found an image of his slain son’s body next to a railway track in 2013, shortly after his murder.

But as users on Reddit reflected, for the most part, the discoveries of loved ones, both alive and dead, provide a great comfort.

‘I look up my Gramma and Grampa’s old house on Google maps all the time.

They have never updated the view from the back alleyway, so the back of their house still looks as it did 10 years ago, and it feels like talking a virtual walk back in time,’ wrote one user.

Another added: ‘I have similar Google map pictures of my mom leaving her house a year before she passed. 

‘If you move down the street facing the house she walks down the stairs and gets in her car.

It’s the only moving footage I have of her.’

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