Well-meaning people sometimes say incredibly hurtful things at the most difficult times.
For instance, when someone has lost a loved one, been laid off from work, or is dealing with illness, disability or loss, people will often give advice, minimize or negate feelings of sadness and grief. Some people will judge others for their feelings or behavior, even make tasteless jokes.
I personally do not like the phrase "I'm sorry;" it sounds too apologetic or pitying. Recently two close friends of mine have had a parent die, and I have felt a sense of deep caring and sadness for them as they navigate this abyss of grief.
Here are a few examples of some respectful, kind words of comfort:
"I am thinking of you."
"I'd like to be supportive however I can."
"Is there anything I can do?"
"Let me know if you ever want to talk about it; I'm available to listen."
"How can I help?"
"I'm here for you."