The Death card comes up a fair amount of times during readings. Even when it's surrounded by the brightest and most pleasant of cards, it always sticks out like a sore thumb.
It's an ominous looking card. Besides, when a question is within the context of asking about the outcome of a relationship, a health question, or a job situation, it becomes even more conspicuous and ominous.
Quite often, when I see this card in a reading, it's a positive indicator. Something that's outmoded or no longer useful will soon go away from one's life and be replaced with something better and new.
With the Rider Waite deck, one of the most popular Tarot decks, Death, who appears to be smiling, comes riding in on a white horse. A king is dead, a priest is pleading or praying, a maiden is looking away, and a child appears to be looking at Death. Just those five characters are wrought with a multitude messages. How they are interpreted depends on the cards around them and the question surrounding the reading, but each one has an answer as to what could be expected next.
Two of the most glaring indications of positivity in the card are the flowing river, which indicates that life will go on, and the peeking up of a radiant rising sun - a new day, a fresh start.
For many of us, change does not come easy and there's a pain that accompanies the transition of a situation to it's next progression. The warning in the card is to accept the ending and see the opportunities in order to allow the new beginning to take place.
It is a Major Arcana card, which indicates that the changes are out of our control to occur. It also indicates it's ruled by a planet rather than a sign, Pluto, the planet of death, rebirth, and transformation, among other things. That colors the interpretation with the fact that it's important to accept the fact(s), move on and embrace the future or else development and growth will no occur.
If you're hoping that things will change or come to an end, this is one of the cards that are a strong indicator that change will indeed occur. In other words, the phase will end and a whole new phase, bright and clear, will start anew so long you embrace it.