We’ve all used this phrase. In the last two years, perhaps we’ve said and heard it a little more often. When we say this to someone it is often out of politeness, or because we don’t really know what to say. It’s not a bad thing. No, it makes people feel heard because someone is acknowledging that they have been through something awful.
After that, there is often a silence. However, some wonderful people who have supported me throughout my difficult moments have opened my eyes to what you could say afterwards, or sometimes even instead of “I’m sorry.”
These can work for almost any of the conversations where your immediate response is “I’m sorry.” Any time after you’ve said that, or if the situation is appropriate, as the first response instead. They can be adapted depending on your physical distance and relation to the person.