How would you handle a situation where you don't personally believe people exist after death but other relatives do, and they tell you they've been visited by them and that the deceased relative has told them things. Maybe even given them a message for you.
How do you handle that so that you don't hurt anyone's feelings or patronise them by pretending to believe?
It is their opinions/beliefs - their business and nothing to do with anyone else. If you don't patronise them in an obvious way by pretending to believe - they will not know and obviously believing brings them comfort. I can never understand why it is so important to meddle in what other people believe - or the compulsion to tell them they are wrong/misguided.
This could be a subtle change, instead of acknowledging any validity in what they are saying, talk about memories of the relative in question when they were alive. Something like, I'm not surprised how you think of them, they were always going on about such and such.
Or if you think that would be too encouraging, just say 'Oh, how strange,' and try to reassure them concerning the dead relative's 'advice'. Something like 'I'll bare that in mind' or 'I won't forget that'.
I can never understand why it is so important to meddle in what other people believe
I guess that's the point I'm making but from the opposite side. If someone doesn't believe in an afterlife how do they handle someone who does, gushing about a message or visitation from a family member without pretending to believe and thereby feeling like they're patronising them. I wouldn't be happy to think people in my family were merely humouring me so wouldn't want to feel I was doing that. If you believed a passed on relative was visiting you, would you share it with people who you knew didn't have those beliefs?