Bodies: Sexuality, Health, and Loss

Mealtime at RLLS

Participants in the Russell Lockwood Leadership School, UUA Pacific Western Region, take time from workshops to nourish their bodies.

We are embodied beings. Unitarian Universalists understand that the body is the means by which we encounter the world. We embrace the rich experiences, joyful and uplifting, challenging, and even heart-breaking, that are connected with having a human body. We believe that what we learn and experience through our physical bodies can help us to deepen and grow in spirit.

Sexuality: Our Whole Lives

word collage of topics covered in Our Whole Lives, adult

Your local congregation may offer the adult segment of our award-winning lifespan sexuality education curriculum. Our Whole Lives: Sexuality Education for Adults (14 2-hour workshops) helps you explore sexuality through your values and experiences. The program helps you to enhance your communication skills as you increase your understanding of healthy relationships, sexual diversity, and sexuality throughout the life cycle. It’s the sexuality education opportunity you probably never had growing up.

While Our Whole Lives is secular, the companion Sexuality and Our Faith, Adults, is used concurrently when the program is offered in a congregational setting. It invites adults to strengthen connections between their sexuality and spirituality, between their values and their behavior, between themselves and their religious community.

In addition, here are some books and websites to help answer questions you may have about adult sexuality and sexual health:

  • Our Bodies Ourselves (OBOS) is a nonprofit, public interest organization based in Cambridge, Mass., that develops and promotes evidence-based information on girls’ and women’s reproductive health and sexuality. Included on the website are articles and information arranged by topic, as well as three published books:

  • How Sex Works: Why We Look, Smell, Taste, Feel, and Act the Way We Do, by Dr. Sharon Moalem (HarperCollins, 2009). Written by a neurogeneticist and evolutionary biologist, this book explores human sexuality and sexual behavior through the lenses of evolution, genetics, biology, and medicine.

Making Values-Based Health Care Decisions

Antique Apothecary
  • Honoring Choices Massachusetts is a collaborative non-profit that provides information and guidance for health care planning and goal setting, choosing an agent, and putting your plan into action. Although the documents provided on the website are specific to the state of Massachusetts, the information about developing a health care plan is broadly applicable.
  • "Reflect on your Values and Beliefs," a section of the Honoring Choices Massachusetts website, includes short videos of people speaking from several different religious perspectives about the connection between religious values and health care. You may wish to explore this issue more deeply with your minister, your family, or trusted friends.

Ethical Eating

people gathered around a table to eat

Participants in the DOVE (Demonstrating Our Values through Eating) program enjoy a meal together. First Unitarian Society of Ithaca, NY.

Ethical eating recognizes the moral consequences of our food choices. Learn more about bringing your values to your food choices by exploring these resources:

  • In a 2007 article in the UU World, Amy Hassinger notes that eating connects us intimately with the 'interdependent web of all existence,' but most food is grown in environmentally unsustainable ways. She asks: Is there an approach to food that honors the 7th Unitarian Universalist Principle, honoring the interdependent web?
potatoes on napkin in front of cooking pot
  • Demonstrating Our Values Through Eating - DOVE, a six-week food education curriculum for group study or individual use, is available free on line. Use the materials alone or with your family/friends to connect food choices with health, wellness, compassion, and sustainability.
  • Forked: a New Standard in American Dining, by Saru Jayaraman, (Oxford University Press, 2016) invites us to pay attention to the working conditions, benefits, and pay for restaurant workers as we choose where to spend dining dollars. The companion website offers short videos and other resources.


Twelve-Step Unitarian Universalists Essays on Recovery

By Ken And Cathlean

From Skinner House Books

Each of the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous and similar recovery programs are taken up by twenty-four different anonymous authors, who bring their Unitarian Universalist identity to their reflections. Twelve-Step Unitarian Universalists: Essays on Recovery was originally published with the...

Buy This Book

Restored to Sanity: Essays on the Twelve Steps by Unitarian Universalists (Skinner House, 2014) collects deeply personal stories from Unitarian Universalists for whom participating in a 12 Step program is an important spiritual practice. To read the essays is to engage with complex stories of people struggling with addiction; each story is unique in its details and its particular way of lifting up hope, courage, and resilience. Together, the essays illuminate how Unitarian Universalist values and faith work with 12 Step programs to promote wholeness in those who practice.

Find more resources on the UU Addictions Ministry page

Grief and Loss

lavendar wildflowers in foreground; gravestone behind

Facing Death with Life, by the Rev. Kate Walker and Lee Ann Wester, is an adult curriculum that facilitates a process of personal reflection, learning, and spiritual growth focused on the topic of death and dying. While the program is written for use by a group in a congregation, questions and resource suggestions may also be used for individual reflection. For example, you might explore the quotes about death or use a poem to help you get in touch with and journal about your personal experiences of grief and loss.

Also on, find more links to online resources and print publications about death, loss and grief, as well as information about compassionate choirs.

Find more resources for death, loss, and grief