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What to do in hard times, by someone who knows | #PERSPECTIVES with Sharon Pearson

Updated: Sep 14, 2021


Most of us have felt, at the very least, a slight tug of the rug out from under us during coronavirus lockdown. Some people have dramatised it, some have totally rocked being calm, some are still working out what to wear.

Two years ago Leigh Chivers, a fitness maven Melbourne engineer dad to son Hugh, now 5, had his life turned upside down. He lost his 34-year-old marketing executive wife Sara Chivers and their two-year-old son Alfie to rare brain cancers.

"Blood tests could not find an inherited genetic mutation, so this may just be the most horrible of coincidences," Sara told Vogue just before she died.

"Lightning can strike twice."

Sara made global headlines with a 2017 letter she wrote, 'What I Want My Boys To Know When I'm Gone.' It was her legacy, but it hasn't become Leigh's.

Since his wife and son passed away, he's found superhuman physical and mental endurance and has powerful insights about navigating situations most of us would see as inconceivable.

Sara Chivers, Alfie Chivers, Leigh Chivers, Perspectives, Sharon Pearson, brain cancer
Sara and Alfie Chivers at their Melbourne home in 2017. Photo: Tess Follett

So when coronavirus uncertainty brought a wave of shock about what our future might look like and a mass fear of death, Leigh had a rock solid base to fall back on—although he laughs at the idea he had all the coping answers.

"Just because you’ve been through something doesn’t make you invulnerable to be perfect for the rest of your life," he told me during our Perspectives podcast.

"You have good moments and bad. The thing is, as you get older you realise it doesn't stop, this won't be the last thing we have to get through something tough."

While he appreciates his biggest coronavirus concerns are for his parents and how to home school preppie Hugh while he's doing paid work four days a week, he understands other people don't know what he does about terrible curve balls.