Joyce 🐝 Bowen Brand Ambassador @ beBee in Stash, Lifestyle Public Speaker • RAINN Apr 13, 2017 · 2 min read · 2.0K

The Price of Compassion

The Price of Compassion

                                          Compassion. What’s it worth? How much do we charge for it?

Foreign concepts? Not so. The monetizing of compassion is well under way. When did it start? Was it always so? Whooaaaa—so many questions. Time to slow down and try to answer them. Perhaps I’ll tell you a story instead.

This story is partially fiction and partially real. The issues were very real. The lack of compassion was and is very real.

Millie is, like me, older. She was in a section of a hospital I recently left. She was there because her life was slowly ending, and her anxiety had gotten the best of her. The end of life is not pleasant in most cases.

Millie has a terminal illness that is slowly killing her. She lives essentially alone and struggles to meet her everyday needs. She is out-of-income for most help simply because she owns her home. I tried to convince her to sell her home and move on to government housing, but she has lived in it for most of her adult life—raised children there, buried a husband, etc. She wants to die there.

Millie often had more than she needed when she was younger and shared her good fortune with those in need. She felt compassion for people around her. She never had riches, but she had enough. She aways thought she would have enough. She never dreamed her compassion would cost her, so she never saved for the days when compassion would have a price tag.

Millie is a proud woman and has difficulty asking for help. When she asks for help, she is often disappointed. The simplest things cost. She needed her toenails cut, and, you could say, practically begged able-bodied adults to cut them. Her hands, like mine, are crippled. She cannot cut them herself. She was denied this simple act of kindness. The answer was no from everyone she asked. A simple act of compassion came with a price tag. She had to wait for a doctor who never came to cut them. She went home with her toenails long enough to hurt. Try to imagine this. Put yourself in Millie’s place.

Millie has no cash. Millie barely drives—only when necessary. Millie struggles to buy food. She survives mostly on the meals-on-wheel program and gets one meal a day. She has been reduced from a vibrant, self-sustaining woman to relying on the compassion of others. But compassion has a price tag, and she has no money.

The unit Millie was placed on only allowed comments of positivity. Since Millie was forced to strive for this positivity, and talk of her inability to do things was often hushed as if it was negative, when she needed help zipping clothing, she had to ask fellow patients for help. Physical infirmity, she felt, was not allowed. Though she had been told by doctors there was no hope for her; somehow hope was supposed to spring from a brain which was slowly atrophying.

Trump has cut the meals-on-wheels program. Compassion's cost was too dear.  Millie’s only food source may soon dry up. Her electricity will be shut off soon. 

"It'll be dark, but I won't be cold," She says with a grin.  She lives in an area that is currently warming.

She fears if she sells her home, government assisted housing may dry up, and she may be forced to live in a nursing home. She would prefer to go homeless. But she fears being wet and cold, and she is physically incapable of carrying any necessities she may need.

Millie has pride. She has little else. She has only one way out to escape with her pride. It’s all she has left.

Perhaps the price of compassion is too great after all.

Copyright 2017 Joyce Bowen

About the Author:  Joyce Bowen is a freelance writer and public speaker.  Inquiries can be made at
Sobre el autor: Joyce Bowen es un escritor independiente y orador público. Las consultas pueden hacerse en
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#27 I lost track of her, unfortunately. But I often meet people whose stories are representative of a greater problem. At the time, I had not come to terms with my own stuff. But in starting research, I see the problem is even greater than I thought. It appears that by denying people basic needs, they can do naught but die. Great way to solve a budget crunch.

Praveen Raj Gullepalli May 10, 2017 · #27

Facing your own demons you still manage to carry a loving, caring and concerned heart inside Joyce! That's so wonderful! Honestly, the horrors and the callousness that we have heard of and seen around us, even here in this part of the world, would almost make one give up hope in humanity. Hope Millie's problem gets resolved soon.

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Pamela 🐝 Williams Apr 23, 2017 · #26

You definitely struck a nerve in society Joyce. Nothing is free anymore. I see sites like (just an example and does not mean to insult the company as they fill an important need) Angie's list or There was a time there was actually business ethics and you didn't have to constantly worry about being conned by mechanics, car dealerships, HVAC services: now you have to do your research, and do a lot of it to prevent receiving crappy service. someone to care for your children, or help the infirmed or elderly; Used to be if you were a member of a neighborhood; you never went hungry because your neighbors always "had a little extra to share", now someone can die of starvation next door to a family who grills steak every Saturday night.

It is not that compassion, empathy, sympathy, honor, respect come with a price; it's that they are dying and all the 'humane services' that those emotions/codes provided are now for sale. It's capitalism selfishness. Even churches are failing in this role. I learned this after taking dozen of meals to other members of the community, members of my church (at the time) only to be forgotten when after surgery I was house bound for three weeks with a young daughter who couldn't drive yet. The most I got was the minister's business card stuck in my door.
You see I was a single woman/mother, and it wasn't 'appropriate' for him to actually enter my home. FYI; this was about 12 years ago, not decades ago.
That church never received another penny of my hard earned money; if that is what they called being a good christian (not capitalized on purpose) I wanted nothing to do with it.
soapbox now finished.

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#2 Pascal. You hit the nail on the head. There are many Millies and Mikes out there. This story just represents how devoid we are of compassion unless it comes with a paycheck.

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Gulcin Newby Kennett Apr 14, 2017 · #24

User removed

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Lynne Black Apr 14, 2017 · #23

A lot of interesting comments. Millie needs to search for assistance as there are many programs that do help as I've had success in helping my Mother-in-law who is on a fixed income with Social Security. Unfortunately, the old saying, save for a rainy day is important for everyone to remember. You never know when you will have a need for simple things later in life. Millie needs to look into equity in her home or phone elderly services. Best of luck....

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#21 Very well said, Phil. While I agree, there are those who prey on the elderly. I think Millie is one of those. I've seen this before. I think she will need help expelling her son. As you can see, this story gets rather complicated. I boiled it down to the personality I saw.

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Phil Friedman Apr 14, 2017 · #21

#18 Joyce, at the risk of appearing callous, while the failure to get help with her toenails is a powerful literary metaphor, in this case it says more about Millie's son and her than it does about the world around her. Sometimes people construct their own miseries, which is sad -- but not tragic. And it seems to me there are enough genuinely tragic stories in the world to keep us from expending much emotional energy on those which are just sad. Personally, I feel badly for Millie, but shall not think of it again, for that reason. Be well.

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