What you said is so true! I can understand people can feel uncomfortable, they don't know what to say and decide to take the easy way and simply say and do nothing. I felt those feelings of not knowing what to say - but I refuse to let those feelings paralyse me into doing nothing! Even if all I can do is hug them, then that is what I will do. I'm not going to pretend they're not going through hard times and then pretend some more that they must be okay.
Something I've learnt over time is that if you genuinely care about people, somehow you will reach out to them and help, whether its just to listen, cry with them or get in the car and rush over there. Overall I really believe that if you genuinely care you will do something, no matter how small. When you feel 'excused' from the problems and do nothing you never really cared about them in the first place. I know its harsh words but over the years of taking care of ma and watching how people reacted to my situation and every now and again to their own situation changing dramatically, you learn about people and how they perceive you (and themselves)
Small example, a lady I deemed a friend of mine was always very practical when it came to my emotional breakdowns over my mother. She wasn't the emotionally breaking-down type and pretty much told me to 'suck it up' regardless of not really comprehending what I was going through. Several years later she was confronted with having to look after her own mother, and suddenly she was a whole lot more understanding, and simply said 'I had no idea'. Indeed - you don't know what another person is going through - but why must we wait until we going through the same thing to show a smidgen of understanding and compassion?
As human beings with hearts and minds, we have empathy and that should be exercised.
Well that's my 10cents... 20cents....