Vanity is a term that we often think of when we meet someone who seems to be consumed with their own appearance. It is not a term we think positively about as the bible has taught since the mid 1400's that it is a sin and with or without the influence of the Bible, we learn growing up that it is generally not something that is an admired trait.
Yet we've been taught to think in some appropriately measured way about how we look to others and to ourselves everyday in order to be accepted in our community. In part, we have learned to value our self worth on how others react to how we look not only aesthetically but also in our capabilities and behaviors.
When we lose our appearance through loss of appearance or loss of capability in relation to a disease or an injury or aging we are struck by a sense of confusion that tells us we should not focus on these losses as that is vanity yet we know we are not who we once were. We have lost characteristics that defined us as the individual we have always known. And for those around us these apparent differences are also difficult at first to understand. Those around us must also learn to live with the changes and say good bye to the familiar with which they also felt comfortable.
The Chinese say, that Crises Equals Opportunity. Changes are a constant in life and yet we struggle with change as we must grieve over the loss of what we once knew and felt safe in that knowing. The obviousness of this type of loss presents a particular opportunity. It opens the pathway to understanding that perhaps it is not vanity at all but your "identity" that has been lost.