Having been a counselor for almost fourteen years, I've seen quite a diversity of problems run across my couch. Most smell at least a little bit like anxiety and depression. Almost all have a ring of grief in them. But the overarching theme, especially over the last year, has been existential dread.
Before you google it, existential dread describes when "individuals question whether their lives have meaning, purpose, or value, and are negatively impacted by the contemplation" (from Wikipedia).
This is hard for me to hear. Mostly because there's nothing I can do about it. "Why not?" you say. "You're a counselor!" you say. If I can't answer the questions of meaning and purpose, who can? A pastor? A philosopher? God?
It's not that I don't have ideas about your meaning, purpose, and value, it's just that I'm ethically not allowed to suggest those answers are right. My job is not to answer those questions for you, but to accompany you as you figure them out. And painfully, that means being a witness to your suffering while you do.
Unsplash photo cred: Pierre Herman