Traditionally, historians of the Middle Ages and early modern period have been particularly keen to research the handling of the deaths of figures of leadership. This article shows that the deaths of modern, non-royal, democratically elected political leaders are also important political moments, especially where they involve prominent politicians who in their own time stood as benchmarks of political leadership and were still part of the collective memory at the time of their death. Such events were peak moments of political communication and interaction, when participants in political life defined their mutual positions and collectively redefined the form and content of 'the political'. Moreover, what makes obituaries worth studying is the central role emotions played in these communicative practices and interactions. Deaths of politicians offer a perspective on the diverse socio-political roles emotions had and, in particular, they create an opportunity to investigate affective identification of 'ordinary people' with politics and politicians. As a case study, this article focuses on the sudden death of former prime minister and former party leader Joop den Uyl in 1987. Successively, it examines the communicative practices of the media, ordinary Dutch people and the Partij van de Arbeid (Labour Party). This article shows that media created a depoliticised memorial stage on which the party could present itself to the Dutch public and appropriate the former party leader. Moreover, this article argues that Dutch people who mourned Den Uyl's death in those days did so both because of the affective bond they felt with his person and because of the feelings they had about the political programme he had represented.