It's wrong to expect that this card portends an actual death, but what it does predict is a figurative death - whether it's the death of a person or a situation. This card means something is coming to a permanent close, unfinished business will be concluded, and a chapter will be terminated.
It's up to the reader to understand what is coming to an end. If the reading is about a relationship this could mean a breakup but it might also be the permanent end of an impediment to intimacy; if the reading is about career, it could be a job termination but it could also be the permanent end to an unwanted situation which opens the door to a positive outcome.
Just as mortality is inescapable, this card stands for the inexorable forces of fate. Like the hanged man, Death reminds you to accept the inevitable, and that some things are beyond your control.