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When a non-believer dies, what can one say instead of "Rest in Peace"?

This has been a bad couple of years losing friends, relatives and personal heroes like Bowie, Prince and now Bourdain. I'm bothered by religious wishes and prayers throw around after a known atheist dies. A work friend passed quite suddenly as an example. and everyone said "oh he's in a better place" and "our prayers are with his family" knowing this man was proudly gay and a sarconic contrarian atheist. The family gave him a religious church funeral against his wishes. I know these words and actions are for the comfort of the living, and I had to bite my tongue and suppress anger at the seeming cluelessness and utter lack of respect. So the question is: What do you say? I like the alternative "Rest in Power", but even that implies an afterlife to "rest" in.

By Perspicalidocious4
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Gone but not forgotten.

jlynn37 Level 8 June 10, 2018

I usually say..."She had a great life, did many things she wanted to do and left loving friends behind. I'm one of them...and I'll miss her."

LucyLoohoo Level 8 June 10, 2018

So long, and thanks for all the fish.

But seriously, Google 'you want a physicist to speak at your funeral'.


They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

MattHardy Level 7 June 10, 2018

Crikey! That's powerful stuff.

Nice one Matt


My atheist friend just died. His 19 year old daughter, his only relative, called to tell me. He was a good and kind man. That is all that needs to be said.


'That SOB better come back! They owed me 25$'

Holysocks Level 7 June 10, 2018

May your body renourish that land that bore you.

Gatovicolo Level 7 June 10, 2018

Honestly, because funerals are more about the living saying a last goodbye to someone no longer with us regardless of beliefs, I don't bother analyzing it. I block out what others say and just say good bye and I'll miss you and leave it at that. Lashing out at others because I don't agree in a time like that is a sure fire way to alienate myself and cause even more pain to others in a very painful and difficult time. That's the last thing anyone needs.

AmyLF Level 6 June 22, 2018

They will be missed.

Exactly what I said when an atheist long term friend recently died.


Go and become fertilizer!

Eazyduzzit Level 7 June 10, 2018

I always say something like "His/her troubles are over." Which is true.

zeuser Level 8 June 10, 2018

Very apropos.


Thoughts and Prayers:

ldheinz Level 7 June 24, 2018

"All things considered I'd rather be in Philadelphia'


We come to celebrate a life not a death.

Surfpirate Level 8 June 10, 2018

See you in the stars.


It's better than "rest in decay."

godef Level 7 June 10, 2018

But don't you think that peace should be a word with no religious attachment. I for one am sick of Christians co-opting our language for their benefit.
As far as rest in peace, it could just as easily mean their remains are no longer bothered by this crazy world. I have never thought about it as being in a better place

My thoughts exactly.


What's wrong with "Rest in peace"?


I'm so sorry for you loss. I'm going to keep you in my thoughts and close to my heart as our friend has returned what was borrowed.

CreativeTN Level 5 June 12, 2018

Thanks. I believe that's what we do and I've found that it's comforting to both the religious and nonreligious.


It doesn't matter who/what is said as long as it's meant to wish them farewell..... anyone is free to dwell on it after the fact as they please

IamNobody Level 8 June 10, 2018

Tell the crowd I was a fart sniffer. It won't matter to me. smile001.gif


Let's face it all the words, strings of words, phrases, sentences or entire eulogies are just there to console the living left behind. One of my favourite family members who was born in 1900 and became a declared atheist after his return from a prolonged WWI said at my mother's funeral: "Sad event. Let's have a few drinks and tell a few jokes. It might be the last time we see each other!" He was dead the next day: Fatal accident on the return journey from the the funeral.


I have been to a fair few humanist funerals and they have all been great and done the job of getting the grieving part over for those of us still alive -they have been empathic and kind and the do- it -yourself togetherness aspect of it is very heartening and heart warming there has been quite a revolution in taking control of your own funeral wishes these days and I really welcome it as everyone present is included - as a human. I have never felt the need after a good ceremony to say any of these trite sayings

jacpod Level 8 June 13, 2018

It doesn't matter what happens to the body. As I heard the Klingons put it on a Star Trek episode, 'It is an empty shell". In other words, how you've lived is all that really matters. If they wish to have a Viking funeral while sacrificing a virgin, let them. If there is an existence after death, nothing they do will affect it.


I celebrate your life

btroje Level 9 June 10, 2018

so sorry the family threw a family celebration fo rthemselves and not the deceased.Sad

All funerals are for the families, friends, or whoever sets them up and pays for them. People who are afraid want to cover themselves in conventions in order to avoid the fear that they are doing something wrong. It is a sign of respect to do things as the deceased asked, but it's unrealistic to expect that your wishes will be followed unless you have an ironclad agreement with a funeral home director. Or a deal with the mob.

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