By Frances Leate
GATHERING around the coffin it must have been hard for family and friends to shed a tear… considering the woman they were meant to be mourning was still stood next to them alive and well.
But this is the bizarre situation that scores of relations found themselves in when they attended the funeral of Eileen Bush.
The 80-year-old expat, from Competa, Malaga, spent a year planning and preparing her own funeral-from the food to the entertainment the forward thinking pensioner wanted to ensure that the event of a lifetime would be exactly right.
So much so in fact, she decided to organise it herself and held it while she was still alive so she could even attend it.
The funeral was held in the The Balcon de Competa Hotel and included a ceremony, hearse and coffin… although empty.
Friends and family travelled to the event from the UK and Australia in order to pay their respects to Eileen, who was able to celebrate her life with them.
The pensioner, believed to be in perfect health, said: “I wanted to return in person the affection I have had from family and friends throughout my life.”
A friend added: “This is Eileen’s funeral and there will be no other ceremony after her death.
“She wanted to be part of it in person, not just in spirit, so we were happy enough to go along with it.”
During the Mass the priest paid tribute to the pensioner, recalling significant milestones of her life.
Eileen has lived in Competa for ten years and told Spanish reporters she was surprised she even reached the age of 80 after suffering from ill health as a child.
Despite her perhaps pessimistic or macabre approach to her own funeral, friends described her as ‘lively, enthusiastic, funny and optimistic’.
It is thought to be the first funeral service in Spain performed while the deceased was still alive, putting the small town of Cómpeta firmly on the map.