English uses "I'm sorry" to both mean "my apologies" (implying guilt, or that you've done something to cause it) and "that's unfortunate" (no guilt implied, like you'd say when you're consoling somebody) and it doesn't make the distinction between the two situations. When I respond to a person who has just shared unfortunate news by saying "I'm sorry", people tend to reply to me with "it's okay" when it's obviously okay (as I didn't contribute to their situation), but it's also odd that it's like I'm asking them to comfort me when they're the one with the situation and I've tried to express sympathy but it feels like it minimizes my acknowledgement and makes it about me rather than them.
Is there a different word/phrase that can be used in place of "I'm sorry" when somebody shares unfortunate news, but that avoids the implication of guilt or the reflexive "it's okay" response?
I found another question asking something similar (Is there a word similar to "condolences" that doesn't involve death?), but it's about "condolences" specifically - while I've thought that word would work in this situation, I also agree that it's death-centric and doesn't apply generally (maybe it's the best choice and should apply, but changing that will take a while). That question is also 10 years old and I'm wondering if there's any new thought since then on a better phrase to use here.