Chaplain Responding to Crisis

What is a true crisis, and what are the distinct types we face daily?

We all have struggled with a variety of difficult experiences. Some made our lives more complicated and challenging, while others made life feel empty and lonely. Either way, we’ve all faced a situation at some point that has exceeded our ability to cope normally.

AKA, we’ve all faced a crisis.

Now, you might be thinking, “No, you’re wrong. I’ve faced hard things before, but I’ve never been in a crisis. A crisis is extreme.” But what if it’s not?

What if a crisis isn’t only an extreme, life-altering event?

Understanding what a crisis really is and the various types of crises can help us understand (and respond) to the crises we face in our own lives and the lives of those around us.

So, what really is a true crisis? What are the different types, if they’re not just the extreme, and how can we move forward after identifying them? Let’s dive in.

What is a True Crisis?

Here at the I.F.O.C., we define a true crisis as a situation that exceeds your ability to normally cope.

This can range from the extreme instinctual situations that our minds tend to think of whenever we hear “crisis” to less-extreme situations, like losing a pet or juggling work stress with family problems.

What’s important to note is that a crisis for you may not be a crisis for your family members or friends. A true crisis is entirely subjective, as it’s based on your own ability to cope with different situations.

How do we know when we’re in a crisis?

The biggest tell is any behavior change that takes place in someone that’s experiencing a difficult situation.

If someone who’s naturally sweet and patient suddenly becomes “snippy” and short, that could be a sign that they’re dealing with a crisis. Likewise, if they start withdrawing from everyday activities, increasing caffeine, food, or alcohol intake, or are unable to sleep, they might also be in a crisis.

Essentially, if their normal patterns are off, they might be operating from a crisis and feeling like they’ve lost their sense of control.

The Different Types of a True Crises We May Face

A true crisis is a situation that exceeds your ability to normally cope with things, a difficulty outside of your normal, and it can come in a variety of different forms.

Below we’ve listed a few different types of crises we may face.

*Note: the list below is not exhaustive, as a crisis is entirely subjective to the individual.

1. Natural Crisis

The world seems full of crises every day, especially within the last few years. From natural disasters like hurricanes, floods, fires, and earthquakes to food and water shortages, worldwide outbreaks, and local environment situations, it can be a lot to handle when they directly affect you or someone you know.

2. Financial Crisis

Finances are one of the biggest stressors in an individual or family’s life. When someone begins to experience a financial crisis; whether it’s not having enough money to pay the bills, trying to get out of debt, or having an unexpected cost come up; it can be extremely difficult to handle and cope with.

3. Relationship Crisis

When there’s tension within a friendship or family, it can create an internal feeling of stress that can be hard to manage or keep separate from all other relationships and areas of life.

4. Workplace Crisis

When there’s tension within a friendship or family, it can create an internal feeling of stress that can be hard to manage or keep separate from all other relationships and areas of life.

5. Grief and Loss

Grief and loss can also be a type of crisis, though we often don’t associate the two. However, losing a pet, job, home, or a close relative can still be extremely difficult to cope with. It’s not a situation that tends to happen often, but when it does, it can change how we normally cope and handle life. It’s beyond what we’re used to handling, in a whole new way.

6. Transitional Crisis

Not everyone handles life transitions or surprises well, regardless of the kind of change that may take place. Moving to a new city or home, starting a new job, dealing with a car that just broke down, or any other kind of transition that may be stressful or difficult to deal with can be a type of crisis.

7. Short-term, Big Decision Crisis

When there’s a big decision that needs to be made, but only a short amount of time to decide, it can be overwhelming and challenging to navigate for an individual, regardless of what the decision may be on. Facing pressure with a time limit can force someone into a state of crisis very quickly.

Final Takeaways

Overall, a genuine crisis is a situation that exceeds your ability to cope with things normally. It can be identified in behavioral changes or differing patterns than normal.

There are many different types of crises that we may experience, but nonetheless, a crisis is entirely subjective. Therefore, what may be a crisis for you may not be a crisis for someone else.

  • If you consider yourself good in a crisis and have the desire to help others through them, consider chaplaincy. There are many types of Chaplains within I.F.O.C. How can you expand your ability to recognize and respond to crises around you? 
  • No matter your role, it’s important to give yourself space to process crisis and loss – even as a chaplain.

Learn how to respond to crisis as an IFOC Chaplain