Anyways, all hugging futility aside, the comforting role is not one I particularly enjoy. Like you, I have difficulty relating to the person's pain, and also become very acutely aware of how unequipped I am to deal with an emotional person. I always feel like there should be some natural human response of empathy that flows out of me when I see someone I love/like in pain, but there isn't. There's nothing, it's just perplexing. I will typically just listen attentively and mutter words that indicate as such, and unless directly asked I won't really offer anything in terms of insight.
Now I usually just rub the person's back, as if they're throwing up. In my mind, it's almost the same thing.