“It was very tough for me because I felt like … I should be the one who’s there for her, but I’ve obviously chosen not to be that person,” Austen, 36, explained on Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen on Thursday, November 2.
Olivia, 31 eventually called Austen after her brother’s death, and he rushed to be by her side. Though the twosome’s relationship has been rocky after their September 2022 split, Austen felt a “stronger bond” with his former flame in the wake of her loss.
“It was kind of like a moment that I’ll never forget,” the Southern Charm star told WWHL host Andy Cohen. “I ran down to see her, and we just had this rom-com movie moment of just like meeting in the driveway and collapsing into each other.”
Austen felt like he could relate to Olivia in that moment because of his own experience with losing a sibling. Austen’s older sister, Kyle, died during a family trip to Chimney Rock State Park when he was 7 years old.
“It was just a moment you can’t really describe,” he said.
Olivia and her family confirmed Conner’s death at age 32 in February, calling him “a remarkable young man” in a statement to Us Weekly at the time. “His values were seeded in his faith and in his family,” the statement continued. “We know his absence will be felt by many for years to come.”
Fans watched as Olivia and the Southern Charm cast grieved Connor when the episodes surrounding his death aired on Bravo last month.
Olivia, for her part, confirmed her brother’s cause of death on Wednesday, November 1, revealing that Conner died from an accidental overdose of fentanyl. She explained that his dependance prescription medicine was closely associated with his longtime battle with Lyme disease. (He was diagnosed at 15 years old.)
“He started depending, at a very young age, on this prescription medicine to feel normal,” Olivia told People on Wednesday. “And we as a family started to see this toll it took on his body.”
The Bravo star explained that Conner “hated talking about his illness” and that “people, even in his close circle, didn’t know about his Lyme.”
Olivia was quick to address the stigma behind a fentanyl overdose, explaining that “these weren’t substances he turned to for partying.” She noted that Conner became addicted to the various medications he was prescribed over the years.
“To hear he died of a fentanyl overdose, there’s immediately going to be this assumption that he was partying,” she said. “Conner wasn’t like that. This was a relapse. This was his means to survive.”