Like many, I was raised with the advice, "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all."
I've come to question this admonishment.
Certainly, I'd prefer not to hurt people with my words. It is never my intention to wound people, emotionally, physically or otherwise.
It doesn't matter whether these people are my friends, or whether I consider them likable.
In general, personally and professionally, I attempt to follow the medical adage of "First, do no harm."
Sometimes, however, it is important to say something rather than nothing. Anything. Even at the risk of possibly causing discomfort or finding our words rejected.
Because sometimes saying nothing causes more harm than good. It can cause people to feel isolated and alone.
Sometimes the bravest, most helpful thing we can do is to say something generic, such as, "I'm sorry for your difficulty."
Something like, "I can't imagine how this must feel."
Or, perhaps, "I'm not sure what to say. I just wanted to reach out and let you know I care."
In the face of difficulty, sometimes nice words are hard to come by.
In the face of difficulty, sometimes any words will do.