This article explores interview data from a study of 50 Norwegian generalist nurses' focus group accounts of caring for dying patients in the hospital and care home. An eclectic discourse analytic approach was applied to nurses' accounts of the patient and three discursive contexts of reference to the patient were identified: the 'taken as read' patient, the patient paired with particular characteristics and the patient as psychologically present. Talk about the patient falls mainly into the first two contexts, which position the patient in relation to three closely related discursive processes: individualization, anonymization and objectification. The third context presents the patient as a person with a particular identity. The analysis is discussed in a broader philosophical and sociological context in which we return to some of the theoretical work on death and dying of the 1990s and the topic of sequestration. We suggest that nurses' talk about the patient can be heard to participate in a continuing sequestration of the dying patient in healthcare institutions focused on 'result-oriented' care.