Regret is a hard pill to swallow

March 10th is Sue’s birthday. She is the oldest of the 4 of us Daly kids. She is smart, funny, gullible and incredibly generous.
Every year we celebrate her birthday by going out for ice cream.
We laugh, share tender stories
and like the three years before—we celebrate without her.

Sue died on July 27, 2007.

Alone in a hotel room, sad, scared and broken. My sister who protected me from getting involved with drugs, who paid my way to Young Life camp when I was in High School and who always believed in me – even when I did not, died isolated from love, laughter and freedom.

She died an addict.

Despite a 25 – year battle with drugs and alcohol, she finally succumbed to the demons that she wrestled with every day of her adult life.

My sister knew the Lord Jesus Christ as her savior. Her conversion and prayer of repentance was as sincere as her love for me.

She desired to turn her life over to more than just a higher power, but to surrender herself, her pain and her addiction to the one who knew and understood her.

She stayed sober for almost a year after inviting Christ to be the Lord of her life.
But eventually the demons came calling with all the familiar taunts and tests.
She was a tortured soul and her addiction played her like a broken record. They reminded her at every opportunity of her weakness, her failures and she believed the lie.

It was gut wrenching to watch the saga unfold in front of my eyes and to see this woman who had everything to live for become completely enslaved to her addiction.
The late night phone calls from jail came with sickening predictability.
Holidays, birthdays and special events were all tainted with intoxication and incarceration.

Watching someone you love self destruct is something that you carry with you for life. Sue was a registered nurse. She was kind, compassionate, smart and hard working. She also was a drug addict. Over time her addiction robbed her of her health, relationships, career and eventually her life.

This year I am struggling with her death. I miss her. I wish things could have been different. I wonder sometimes, Could I have done more for her? A redundant question, but I ask it anyway.

Why does the pain cut more deeply this year?

At church we are in the middle of a series on conflict. Last week the Pastor talked about resolution and the importance of having closure.

That was it. I was lacking closure. Sure we had a memorial service and we celebrated and remembered who Sue was, but I did not have closure with her.

Our last conversation took place two days before she died. Like so many times before, she was drunk and asked me to help her with something.

Trying my best to apply tough love skills, I firmly told her I could not speak to her when she was drunk, but would love to talk with her when she was sober—final words exchanged with a sister I loved.

Regret is a hard pill to swallow. I know there is nothing that I could have done to change her situation. I only wish my last words had been I love you.

So as I wrestle with my own demons of grief and regret, I want to encourage you to engage with your own. We all have things in our life that trip us up, try to steal our joy and rob us of the freedom we have in Christ. Whether your demons are drugs & alcohol, gambling, gossip, seeking approval, pornography or food I pray that you find the courage to address them and pursue a life of healing and recovery.

Grace, Peace & Recovery…Karen

John 10:10

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life
and have it to the full.

Here are some resources:

Susan Daly – you are loved and missed…Happy Birthday


9 thoughts on “Regret is a hard pill to swallow

  1. courtney says:


    I pray that you will know God’s comfort as you grieve today. Your love for Sue is was evident in your refusal to speak to her while she was drunk. You continue to be a speaker of truth to those who travel the uneven paths of this life…one tiny step at a time.


  2. Justin says:

    Karen – thanks for sharing such a deep, intimate and tragic relationship with us. I trust the Spirit is shepherding you soul. What a powerful testimony to the love of a sister and the pain that addiction can have on not just the one who is addicted, but to those around them. You are courageous for speaking these things into the light. You did the right thing. When those we love are hurting – it’s so easy to take on the enabler role – but that doesn’t help either, it only prolongs the pain. Praying with you, friend.

  3. Joanne says:

    Thinking of you today Karen. I can only imagine how much she would love knowing her story may help others.

    Looking forward to meeting your sister one day.

    Blessings friend.

  4. Wanda Binford says:

    One day, you will have the opportunity to see your sister again and say “I love you.”
    For now, may you know the love of God wrapping his arms around you and holding you tight. He will never let you go. He’s holding Sue too. Surely, she knows what lies deep within your heart as you remember her today and always. One day, every tear of regret will be wiped away as He makes ALL things NEW! Thanks for sharing your heart, Karen. I’m praying for you tonight….

  5. Jenny says:

    Thanks for telling Sue’s story. I cried. Today when I dropped my kids off at school, even though we were all grouchy and we weren’t having a good morning, the last thing I said was “I love you. Have a good day”. I’m going to be more deliberate about this after reading your story. I think I’ll call my folks today to tell them I love them. You never know when it will be your last chance…

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