What are the stages of the coronavirus crisis?


With the arrival of the coronavirus in Estonia, much has been said about the virus, the sick, the deaths, the restrictions but also the economy, labour and money. Much less thought has been given to whether this is a crisis or not, and there is virtually no mention of what cycle of crisis we have entered and what it entails.

Leaving aside the various options for defining this cycle, we must admit that we are in crisis. How big or deep its low point will be, time will tell but it is undoubtedly a crisis. It has definite parts, just as the sun rises in the east, moves along the sky to the west and sets there.

Regardless of the model builder, the crisis also has its own distinct parts that follow one another and come as firmly as the setting of the sun in the west at the end of the day.

Two very voluminous texts have been published in recent weeks on the crisis and, above all, on crisis communication.

The first story, from Eero Epner, was published in Levila, a new publication that specializes in stories with long texts. In the story, Epner writes about the long series of events and the nature of people in crisis as well as its communication during the current outbreak of the coronavirus. He talks about the many crisis specialists from the Health Board, the State Chancellery, the Ministry of the Interior and elsewhere.

Another, slightly shorter source of material from Ilmar Raag was published on ERR’s portal. In it, Raag focuses on the nature of the crisis, compares it with previous crises that have affected Estonia and looks at what is possibly awaiting us in the future.

He writes: „Forecast for the near future – No doubt the situation will get worse in the coming weeks. If people are being understanding during the first week, then during the second week, frustration will start to appear, as there will be no dramatic signs of any possible victory. Frustration means amplifying accusations against others and expressing ones own inner pressures on the ones around you.

While in authoritarian countries, crisis management depends on people’s willingness to carry out draconian orders, in a country like Estonia, everything ultimately depends on a civil society, which adepts itself to common rules on the basis of common sense. This means that horizontal and constructive communication is, in a way, the key to the situation.“

What is it that Raag is referring to?

Currently, there are many crises underway. One is surely a crisis at the national level, which has already brought about major changes and shocks through the breakdown of everyday routines. Quite a large portion of Estonians are living through personal crises, be it a crisis related to work or income, an economic crisis for entrepreneurs, a crisis related to those infected or loved ones who have passed.

Crisis expert Kadri Ugur has written that crisis is a human reaction to an unexpected event. „It’s a reaction of a normal psyche to an abnormal situation. Such situations are not well taken. However, when an accident occurs, we are often confused and lose our heads. Most people are able to deal with things during a crisis situation but they are still wondering if they did the right thing or should have done something different?“

Regardless of the model, the crisis has a shock faze, during which time it enters the subconscious in a softened form. This is followed by a period of breakthrough, during which one discovers change, tries to understand it and learns to live in a situation of change.

A period of working it out is always followed by recovery and reorientation, during which time the change is embraced as well as a period of gradually getting used to the change.

A well-described model of the crisis in the Kübler-Ross grief process, according to which the crisis period fazes, consists of shock, denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.

It is difficult to say what stage of the crisis we are in and certainly, it is different on a personal level. As the crisis promises to be long, we are probably only at a relatively early stage of the crisis at every level. Everything that has come must come in any case and we should try to keep the damage to as low a level as possible.

Propastop calls for you to take notice of the reaction of your loved ones in this crisis and to intervene if necessary.

Photo: Samuel Ghilardi/Flickr/CC