The clearest evidence of whether or not your tree/shrub is dead or dying can be found by looking at the leaves.
Some trees will take a while to leaf out, but if your tree does not have a single leaf in August, then there is a significant problem.
Evergreen trees are different. It’s common for the interior of the canopy to “shade out,” which means that the first needles to fall are the ones from the inside of the plant closet to the trunk. If you’re seeing the opposite occur – needles or other evergreen foliage turning brown at the ends of the branches first – then that tree might be dying.
Generally, if any tree or shrub has browning or yellowing leaves in the summer, something is definitely wrong. It may not be dead/dying but there is an issue that needs to be assessed.