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Nervios and Dysphoria in Mexican American Widows

The grief felt by a recently bereaved widow is expressed in various ways. In this article we report how Mexican American widows in the 1st year of their bereavement respond culturally to the loss of their husbands. How do these widows experience and communicate their sadness, grief, and despair (Good, Good, & Moradi, 1985)? Does the dysphoria of widows differ from the depression of a fundamentally trouble person? Clues come from language, from the network of words and

meanings (Good & Good, 1982) that Mexican Americans use to describe how they feel. In particular, illnesses or symptoms labeled in English as nerves and nervousness, called in Spanish nervios, problemas con los nervios, and, in serious cases, ataque de nervios might answer these questions. We studied the widows' mourning practices, symptoms of dysphoria, and somatic reactions to learn if the syndrome of nervios subsumed their reaction to bereavement.