What Matters: Caring Conversations About End of Life

What Matters: Caring Conversations
About End of Life

The COVID-19 health crisis has brought major changes to our lives—sheltering in place, physical distancing, new routines. But this time also gives us the opportunity to start meaningful conversations with our loved ones and other important people in our lives about what matters most to each of us. We can prepare ahead of any crisis by developing an advance care plan, communicating our healthcare wishes, and completing our documentation. It may be more important now than ever.

Eternal Gifts: Praising the Lives and Legacies of Those We Have Lost – September 28, 2022

Get to know us as we walk through the New York State Healthcare Proxy

About Us

We are all concerned about receiving the medical care we need and want. What happens if you are no longer able to make health care decisions on your own behalf? New York State allows you to name an individual (as well as an alternate) whom you trust to advocate and make decisions on your behalf and to document this information in a New York State Healthcare Proxy.

  • Consider what your healthcare wishes would be, decide who to designate as your healthcare agent, and communicate your wishes
  • Start a conversation with family, friends or other important people in your life about their wishes
  • Complete an advance directive—the New York State Healthcare Proxy, or revisit one you had previously completed
  • Answer your questions and refer you to needed resources

Through a program called WHAT MATTERS, our congregation has a number of trained facilitators who can help you:

What To Do Next?

Write us at whatmatters@crsnyc.org for an individual appointment to meet virtually with a WHAT MATTERS facilitator who has been trained to walk you through this process.


Register here for an online group session with WHAT MATTERS facilitators who will walk you through this process. You will be sent instructions to join a session by Zoom.


Start the process by yourself. Here is a recent NY Times article by Dr. Sunita Puri with some excellent questions to get you started. Please contact a WHAT MATTERS facilitator with any questions.

Please refer to the “Things to Remember” list, below, for more information about advance care planning. You may also look at WHAT MATTERS for more information.

Things to Remember

  • Your plan will only be used if you are unable to communicate when decisions need to be made. If you regain the ability to communicate, the plan is no longer used.
  • It is important to share your plans with your loved ones and other important people in your life, even if they are not your appointed decision-maker. That way, everyone is on the same page.
  • It is important to select and share your wishes with an agent whom you trust and who can represent you and speak on your behalf if you became seriously ill. We can’t predict every scenario, but we can share our values and the guiding principles so they can confidently make decisions for us. If we don’t say it, they won’t know.
  • You can change your choices whenever you want, communicating these changes to your health care agent and alternate, and your documents can be reviewed and updated after this crisis is over.
    If you have no one to appoint as your agent, we can help you think through alternative ways to express your wishes.
  • You must take your completed documentation with you to the hospital so doctors will know who to call and the identity and contact information of your healthcare agent since it is unlikely that visitors will be allowed.
  • It is advisable to attach to your Healthcare Proxy document a list of your medications, pre-existing conditions, and instructions about specific medical interventions.
  • Social distancing measures can make it harder to have your healthcare documents witnessed. WHAT MATTERS can help you with temporary options.
  • If you wish to discuss funeral wishes and pre-arrangements, please contact one of our Clergy and/or Plaza Jewish Community Chapel.

Video Archive

What Matters presents: Getting Your House in Order During COVID-19

What Matters presents: True or False: Nothing is Certain Except Death and Taxes

File of Life

Amidst Covid-19, the mitzvah of pikuach nefesh, saving a life, looms large in our lives. During the pandemic we learned in palpable ways what it means to fear for our health and to be responsible for protecting the health of others. In response to our shared trauma, we step forward in strength, resolved to protect ourselves and our communities.

Resources and Articles

The Time for “The Talk” is Now
By Laura Schellenberg Johnson, M.D.. The New York Times, 19 May 2020.

Do You Want to Die in an I.C.U.? Pandemic Makes Question All Too Real
By Paula Span. The New York Times, 24 April 2020.

CPR, by Default
By Paula Span, The New York Times, 31 January 2020.

More Americans Are Dying at Home Than in Hospitals
By Gina Kolata, The New York Times, 11 December 2019.

Get Your Digital Accounts Ready In Case of Death
By Melanie Pinola, The New York Times, 3 October 2019.

Connect With Us

Please do not hesitate to reach out to us if you have questions or want to set up a conversation with one of our trained facilitators. The best way to get in touch with us is by emailing whatmatters@crsnyc.org.