Following a heartbreaking elimination on Dancing With the Stars‘ November 18 episode, pro dancer Emma Slater opened up about her partner, James Van Der Beek. The professional choreographer got candid about James’ performance after he revealed during the live show that his wife, Kimberly Van Der Beek, had lost their sixth child.

“Honestly, his strength is Kimberly, his wife,” Emma, 30, shared with Closer Weekly and other reporters after James, 42, revealed he almost didn’t return to compete after doctors told him and Kimberly, 37 the news. Emma explained that, although Kimberly suffered a miscarriage months into the pregnancy, she urged her husband to compete.

“She’s the most inspirational, high-spirited person I know — she was not having it, him staying at home,” the Mamma Mia! actress explained. “She was making sure [he came here], pushing him out the door. He’s been torn; she’s the person who said, ‘I need you go to there and dance and show everyone how great you are.’ That’s what he did tonight.”

Shortly after the Dawson’s Creek alum — who is already the proud dad of kids Olivia, 9, Joshua, 7, Annabel Leah, 5, Emilia, 3, Gwendolyn, 1 — shared the news of Kimberly’s miscarriage, DWTS judges sent him and his professional partner home. Although Emma was heartbroken that their journey officially came to an end, she explained why it’s extra sad James won’t be dancing next Monday night.

“I wish the outcome could have been different and we could have gone to the finale and [Kimberly] could have come and seen us dance again,” the dancing star explained. “She wasn’t able to be here tonight. The other thing that kept him going through … he needed the show.”

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Wrecked. Devastated. In shock. That’s how we’re feeling right now after the soul we thought were going to welcome into our family in April… has taken a short cut to whatever lies beyond this life. We’ve been through this before, but never this late in the pregnancy, and never accompanied by such a scary, horrific threat to @vanderkimberly and her well-being. Grateful that she’s now recovering, but we’ve only just begun unpacking the layers of this one. Thank you to all of our friends and co-workers (and dance partners) who have shown up for us so beautifully during this time. As many of you have said, “There are no words…” and it’s true. Which is why in a time like this it’s enough to know that you’re there. Grieving AND counting our blessings today.

A post shared by James Van Der Beek (@vanderjames) on

Emma continued, “He said to me, ‘I need the show. I’m grateful to have an outlet and to have a form of physical expression and keep that engine to keep me going. I need to feel normal and not fall into the pit.'” Aww!

Following their elimination, Emma got candid about why it was so important for her to get James to the show’s final round.

“I feel disappointment that he couldn’t get to shine his light in the finale,” she said. “I wish we could have been in the finale, not for myself, but for James. It’s always about the partner. Of course, I want to be there, but this is about James. On top of the week he’s had I feel really … I feel like I want to protect him and he wasn’t protected.”

We bet Kimberly and their kids couldn’t be more proud of their husband and father.