This study investigates Diploma in Higher Education nursing students' perceptions and experiences of the phenomenon of death. The sample size was eight students drawn from the adult branch. A phenomenological approach was used; data collection being via two focused group interviews/discussions. Four themes were identified which appeared to form the basis of the students' reality: knowing, reality, relationships and culture. The results suggest that self-knowledge and theoretical knowledge are important in the formation of their reality. The need to develop relationships with patients was identified as an important aspect of caregiving. Relationships with staff who offered support and guidance was seen as desirable. This was sometimes compromised by conflicting philosophies, but the desire to implement holistic care was apparent. The students appeared able to reflect with insight, openness and objectivity. They also appeared to be developing the ability to take an active part in the development of their own conceptual notions and perceptions. They did not appear to be disillusioned or socialized into roles they did not feel were appropriate. The need to maintain the educational input and reflective ability for the students is recommended. Names given to students in this study are fictitious. The study refers to the students as Diploma in Higher Education nursing students. This is often referred to as Project 2000.