This longitudinal study of older Anglo and Mexican‐American widows provides data on coping strategies and coping effectiveness as measured by perceived physical and psychological health. Previous health levels were the best predictors of later physical and psychological symptoms. Contrary to expectations, both ethnic groups preferred nonconfrontational strategies for widowhood problems, with the Mexican Americans using more confrontational strategies. Ways of coping with problems during the first months of widowhood had significant long‐term effects upon the widow's health. The most effective coping methods over the first year involved combinations of independent action and emotional release. Over a longer period, more effective strategies included being able to ignore problems, accept the situation, and release tensions, or to actively seek advice about general problems. Contradictory findings over the two time periods for those Mexican Americans using independent action and emotional release strategies appear to be related to cultural patterns of familial support after a death occurs.