"Before Their Time" presents adult children survivors' (defined as 18 or above at the time of the parent's death) accounts of their loss, grief and resolution following a parent's suicide. In one section, the book offers the perspectives of sons and daughters on the deaths of mothers; in another, the perspectives of sons and daughters on the deaths of fathers. In a third section, four siblings reflect on the shared loss of their mother. Each of these survivors faces the common difficulties associated with losing a loved one by suicide. They also experience difficulties specific to their status as both adult and child. Topics such as the impact of the parent's suicide on adult children's personal and professional choices, marriages and parenting, sibling and surviving parent relationships are explored with sensitivity and insight. Various coping skills, including humour, are described. The writers describe feelings of regret and responsibility related to their parent's suicide. They express concern about other family members' vulnerability to suicide. They speak openly about the fears and stresses they face and how they cope with them.
The authors ranged in age from 19 to 35 at the time of the parent's death. Between one and 25 years have passed since that tragedy. In addition to the first-person narrative, the book includes a resource section with a national listing of suicice survivor support groups; an overview of existing research on survivors of suicide by John L. McIntosh, past president of the American Association of Suicidology; and an essay on elderly suicide by David C. Clark, secretary-general, International Association for Suicide, and editor-in-chief of "Crisis". The book is introduced with a foreword by Rev. Charles Rubey, founder and director of Loving Outreach to Survivors of Suicide.