'I'm not dead!': A woman's bureaucratic nightmare

Jeanne Pouchain has spent the past four years trying prove to French authorities that she isn't actually dead.

A victim of a bizarre maze of mistaken court errors, legal woes, and miles and miles of bureaucracy that have left her and her family with seemingly endless problems.

"My name was Jeanne, my name still is Jeanne, after I was declared dead in 2017."

Pouchain is 59-years-old and desperate to escape the nightmare that has left her living life as a recluse.

This all began when her family received a letter from a French court, mistakenly claiming that she was deceased.

It demanded her husband and son pay for the money she was alleged to have owed when she was "alive."

The letter was part of a complicated legal procedure launched by a former employee of Pouchain's cleaning business, and resolving the issue is no easy feat.

While trying to prove her existence, Pouchain has been unable to work, afraid to leave her house because she has no valid ID or social security details.

Speaking to Reuters from her house in a small village near Lyon, she said the experience has been isolating.

"My life, well, it's nothing. I feel I'm like I'm useless. I'm nothing and I'm of no use, and that is difficult. I can spend weeks and weeks and weeks without receiving a single phone call."

Her husband, Pierre-Jean, has also struggled.

Some of the family's belongings have been taken by court bailiffs, while their savings, and more, have gone into the cost of fighting against the ruling.

"Living with a dead person is not easy. That is the first thing. When you receive documents saying, 'the late Jeanne Pouchain'. When the bailiff gives you a document, saying 'about your wife,' almost offering his condolences. Or even worse, when the bailiff gives the document directly to her, well it's something that impacts you deeply because it's the central issue of this matter. I'm wondering if we might both be dead, if we are in hell or in heaven, I don't know. We pinch ourselves to make sure it is all real."

After four long years, there is now a glimmer of hope, the courts are looking at Pouchain's case again.

Though it may be months before her bid to get the case against her revised, let alone for a judge to recognize that she isn't dead.

Despite the lengthy process, she has a to-do list for when that day comes.

Her health will become a top priority, as, without a social security card, she has been missing out on health and dental care. Right now, she only has six teeth left.

"The first thing I will do is a full health check, because I know my body is not working well, I have a lot of issues with my legs, my feet are swollen."

"I would love to have teeth. Can you imagine. I would be so happy, even if they would just give me two dentures, I would be happy to have teeth. I would really, really, really love to have teeth. Here are the two most important things, I think."

Once Pouchain manages to prove she is very much alive, she hopes to return to a "peaceful and calm" existence.

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