Unfortunately a colleague of mine passed away the other day, it was an extremely sad event, however, it resulted in an onslaught of religious expression throughout the office which set me to thinking. In situations like this I will, as I would assume most people would, refrain from anti-theistic remarks; if somebodies religion helps them through a difficult episode it is not my place to trample on that. What really got me thinking was when I was signing a card for my colleagues family I barely prevented myself from writing "may he rest in peace." Although it may be a nice thing to say I believe that it would have been written under false pretences.
As an atheist I believe that the statement rest in piece is just a meaningless platitude offered in place of something truly meaningful, yet I know it is a statement theists and atheists a like will often say. I settled for: "he was a man whom I was honoured to know and he will be sorely missed"; not only do I believe this is far more personal and meaningful than R.I.P but I believe it is honest.
I would like to know what your opinions are on this; is spouting something you believe to be false ok in such a circumstance, is offering platitudes to try and comfort someone fine or should we try to be more honest?