I’ve come to believe that MOST people do not have direct experience with the extremes of what they feel they may know because of reading about it (and albeit, honestly caring about it too.) That lack of direct experience makes the empathy expression largely an intellectual endeavor rather than a heartfelt one.
At least, though, the intellectual empathy is there, though I don’t believe it to necessarily be as effective as heartfelt empathy. The distinction of course is damn hazy anyway.
People learn, though, and by having the intellectual thought in place, one day they may run into the real deal, the direct pain, and they’ll recognize it and not flee.
May not help you or your boys now, but your putting it out there may not be wasted for lack of proper immediate response.