How do I express sympathy?

I need some suggestions for how to express sympathy and concern. Unfortunately, this has come up a lot recently and I find it hard to come up with a good but brief way of expressing my sympathy and support and maybe some comfort. “I’m keeping you in my thoughts and prayers” expresses this pretty well, except that I don’t particularly believe in prayer, so it’s insincere and without that part it just seems short and incomplete. “Sending good vibes” is similarly problematic, since it doesn’t mean anything to me. “Sending a hug” can work, but isn’t always appropriate and seems trivial. Likewise, “My thoughts and love are with you” is sometimes not appropriate, for instance, if a business colleague has a death in the family. What can I say to express my sincere sympathy without seeming like an insincere jerk?

Things you may say:

I’m sorry for your loss.
I’ve been thinking of you.
I’m sorry, that sucks.
I feel so sad for you.
I’ve been thinking about you a lot and hoping you’re doing okay.
Please let me know if there’s anything I can do for you.
I remember your cat/mom/ex-wife fondly. One time, it/she meowed at me/made me oatmeal cookies/remembered my birthday, and that made me feel really good.
You must be going through a hard time right now, and I wish there were something I could do to make you feel better.

Things you may not say:

He’s in a better place now. (You don’t know that for a fact, and besides, what if in my mind the better place is next to me on the couch, not dead?)
Everything happens for a reason.
It will get better with time.
She was old/mean/sick for a long time/really into the supernatural so maybe she’s a ghost now.
My cat died once and it was terrible. She had this surgery where they had to stitch her eyeball to her leg, and I know your grandmother was a person and had 47 different kinds of cancer, but my cat was really awesome.
At least it was quick!
At least you got to say good-bye!

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