After Conner Flowers died midway through season 9 filming, his sister tells PEOPLE her costars' support was "why I kept showing up"
In the midst of processing that her best friend Taylor Ann Green lied to her about kissing her ex Austen Kroll, Southern Charm’s Olivia Flowers learned that her brother Conner unexpectedly died at age 32.
“That was like, the worst timing,” Flowers, 31, tells PEOPLE.
Conner’s death took place right in the middle of filming season 9.
“It certainly made it just that much more challenging to finish it out,” Flowers says. “But my castmates were all really supportive in their own individual ways and a lot of people stepped up to help me and my family and be there for us.”
That support from her castmates made it bearable for Flowers to continue filming. “That was so incredibly appreciated,” she says. “They are why I kept showing up to finish it out. At the end of the day, it's a job, it's a commitment, and some days it was incredibly difficult. I had someone like Rod [Razavi] who was able to help me through it.”
Flowers calls shooting the Bravo show while she first coped a “good distraction.” “It was a good escape at the time,” she says.
But Flowers admits “it's going to be difficult to watch back” the episodes from that period.
“My brain did a complete shift into what mattered,” Flowers says. “It put a lot into perspective, and [showed] as well who my friends were and who stepped up and who was there for me. And new friendships were developed from all that. That's what you see happen in the second half of things.”
In the latest episode of Southern Charm, Flowers continued exploring her relationship with Razavi by going out on a date with him on what would have been Conner’s 33rd birthday.
“He's a great listener and he's able to give unbiased advice,” Flowers says of Razavi, 40. “I confide in him a lot throughout the season and it was so appreciated. That's just the kind of guy he is.”
Flowers also reconnected with Kroll, 36, during the episode because he understood firsthand what it felt like to lose a sibling. (Kroll’s older sister died when he was a kid.)
“Going into this season, we weren't really in the best place,” Flowers says of splitting from Kroll. “We hadn't talked or seen each other for a while, so it wasn't that there was a lot of interactions before. When you see us at Madison's wedding party, that really was the first time we were seeing each other in a while. All the nerves and discomfort that come through are very organic. You'll see that on the season just trying to navigate where we see each other next just as friends. And it was tricky.”
At the time of Conner’s death in February, the Flowers family remembered his friendly nature and commitment to his faith in a statement to PEOPLE.
"Conner was a remarkable young man, with the gift of compassion and love for others, earning him friends everywhere he went," the family shared. "His values were seeded in his faith and in his family. We know his absence will be felt by many for years to come."
On Instagram, Flowers called it “a blessing” to be “the sister of such a beautiful, tender hearted soul with the soft spoken voice to match.”
“He led every interaction with that big heart of his,” she wrote Feb, 14. “Catching everyone’s eye with his fashion sense. I don’t know what this life will be without you. It’s always been us 4. I can only hope I continue to be known forever as ‘Conner’s little sister.’”
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Southern Charm airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET on Bravo.
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