When things go wrong for others, I am not one of those friends who can be sympathetic in a socially acceptable way. I get accused of being cold, detached, uncaring, but people who say that really don't know me. Unless you are among the handful of folks I call "My People," I won't ask you about your problems. It's none of my business. I certainly won't post "I'm praying for you" on your Facebook wall. I get pretty uncomfortable with public displays of sympathy, both mine and others. I find it intrinsically demeaning.
It's invasive. It's like accidentally walking in on someone using the restroom. Too much information for either person to comfortably acknowledge. It's seeing their foibles, the cracks in their armor, seeing them raw, and pretending that I can slap on some bondo and a fresh coat of paint to make things better. People who do this might have their hearts in the right place, but they simply don't give the situation the gravity it deserves. Seeing or hearing it makes my skin crawl. It's an insult to my sensitivities as a human being.
I believe in the gift of casseroles and free babysitting when times are tough. I do my best to really listen. I am standing right there, ready, waiting, just in case. I won't tell you what to do. I am old enough to know that people seldom want advice, and even when they do, they don't follow it. I am not naive enough to think I can help you or save you or make you feel better. This is your fight, your burden, your loss. You have to bear it, not me. In the meantime, I will sit and watch television with you. I'll bring you delicious treats and pretty things and warm sweatpants. I'll get you stoned and take you out to the country to watch the stars. But I won't tell you how sorry I am.
There's no way I could be sorrier than you. For me to say I'm sorry just cheapens the word. I don't know how you feel, and I don't pretend to. Just know that as you work through your grief, your pain, your sorrow, I'm right here if you need me.