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  • Writer's pictureDr. Joyce Brown

Expectations: Leaving a Lasting Legacy

Psalm 90:10

Psalm 90:10

Image: Theo Onic on Unsplash

Psalm 90:10

10 The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if because of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.

Expectations are the firm belief that something will happen or be the case. More than anything else, our expectations determine our reality. And our expectations also impact those around us.

Expectations also guide family interactions. When we either stray from those expectations or decide they are no longer relevant, it leaves a void. This void is often filled with anxiety, pain, bitterness, and even lingering rifts among family members and others in our circle.

Last September, our disparate family members were summoned to Arkansas for another family funeral. Shockingly, few of us knew the extent of our relative and friend's five-year illness, her support network, or her estate.

Bewildered, confused, and frustrated, we attempted to sort out her expectations for final arrangements. We did know where she would be buried with her parents and brother, but nothing else. Beyond that, we began affixing our expectations and lived experiences to an overwhelming time.

Sorting through the varied expectations of family, friends, and vendors: the questions about the who—what—where—why—and the most intrusive, what happens next? The lack of viable answers created anxiety, hard feelings, and unnecessary stress. Without a clear vision of managing everyone's expectations, we proceeded with a beautiful celebration of life overshadowed by questions and unmet expectations of many assembled for the solemn occasion.

Now, we are left to sort through brief conversations, intuit the following steps, and seek outside counsel to answer the questions she chose not to deal with during her final weeks and months.

If I had one thought for the readers, it would be to prepare for the inevitability of death. Find someone you trust and a legal professional to set your expectations for what happens when you're no longer here to tell everyone.

Finally, to those left out of the will or inheritance, expecting an inheritance that does not materialize is the best way to leave you bereft. Expecting someone to remember you wanted a specific legacy will lead to disappointment, disagreements, or deceptive practices to acquire something never intended for you.

Life will not always turn out the way you want it to. And when those unfulfilled expectations involve the failure of other people to behave the way you expect them to, the disappointment also involves resentment, distortions of reality, and fractured relationships.

So, in recognition of the warning to prepare for both the surety of our death and the earthly realities that someone/s will be responsible for carrying out your directives, write it down. Make it plain so that your final wishes are carried out, and the resources are there to cover the costs of settling your estate.

Write plainly how and to whom your assets are to be disbursed upon your death. Have the documents notarized and appoint in writing who is responsible for taking care of your assets. If you fail to do so, the courts will make the distributions, often resulting in additional strained relationships.

Often, you need to update a will or trust document at intervals to account for changes in financial conditions and trustees or to conform to legal changes.

More importantly, expect to live a full and productive life in which the people you touch will be enriched by what you pour into them rather than acquiring the material things you acquired.

Expect that soon, our lives will be cut off, and we will fly away.Psalm 90:10


Joyce A. Brown is a motivational speaker and author who uses her creative energy to give voice and meaning to the challenges women face in all walks of life. She grew up in Rockford, Illinois in a household of strong women, but her professional career expanded her reach into Peoria and Battle Creek, Michigan. She is a proud member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and has served as a direct services worker, executive director, program director for a major foundation, and entrepreneur. Joyce has experienced many uplifting moments as a professional and as a dedicated parent and strives to bring those events and lessons to life through her characters in the contemporary fiction novels she pens. Visit her Author’s Page

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