How are politics generated by grief actually lived, and how do they endure? By exploring long-term repercussions of Europe’s lethal borders, I show what shape shared grief takes in the minute encounters between ‘ordinary people’ across borders and how alternative politics are lived as a vivid critique of the moral economy of the EU border regime. Therefore, I explore intimate uncertainties that arise both in the confrontation with death and in the unexpected affection between strangers. The analysis of a single shipwreck in 2003 indicates the need for more ethnographically nuanced, historically informed and translocal approaches to death during migration in anthropology.