James Van Der Beek Needed 'Dancing With the Stars' to Cope With Miscarriage, Partner Emma Slater Says

Dancing With the Stars helped James Van Der Beek start to heal from the loss of his and his wife's sixth baby on the way. Following Monday's emotional DWTS semifinals episode, which saw Van Der Beek eliminated from the competition just after revealing that his wife Kimberly suffered a miscarriage over the weekend, his pro partner Emma Slater told PEOPLE that the Dawson's Creek star had praised the ABC series for helping him.

"He needed the show," Slater said, recalling something Van Der Beek said to her. "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 me going. I need to feel normal and not fall into the pit.'"

Van Der Beek shared during Monday's episode that it was Kimberly who pushed him to continue in the competition even after receiving the devastating news. "Honestly, his strength is Kimberly his wife," Slater said. "[Kimberly's] the most inspirational, high-spirited person I know."

"She was not having it, him staying at home," she continued. "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 to go to there and dance and show everyone how great you are and shine.' That's what he did tonight."

Slater, 30, went on to say that she was sad Kimberly wouldn't be able to see her husband dance again in the ballroom. "I wish the outcome could have been different and we could have gone to the finale and she could have come and seen us dance again," Slater said. "She wasn't able to be here tonight."

Slater teared up while discussing Van Der Beek's elimination, saying she wished she would have been able to shield him from his double loss. "On top of the week he's had I feel really ... I feel like I want to protect him and he wasn't protected," she said. "I told him I was really sorry and it had nothing to do with him at all. He was the best he could have ever been, and I told him that he was amazing and I wouldn't have wanted to have danced with anyone else. More than anything I told him I was sorry; I felt like I was representing the show and I feel like he was let down. He was an incredible dancer."

"He's not one to get defeated," she continued. "He has a very good head on his shoulders. This is a dance show. I know he’s upset and disappointed. At the same time, he’s an extremely smart and level-headed man. He’s the first person to offer up advice. I hope he’s taking his own advice."

James, 42, and Kimberly, 37, are parents to Gwendolyn, 16 months, Emilia, 3, Annabel Leah, 5, Joshua, 7, and Olivia, 9. The couple has been through miscarriages before, as Van Der Beek explained on Instagram back in October, when he first announced the pregnancy.

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"Miscarriage (a word that needs a replacement — nobody failed to ‘carry,’ these things sometimes just happen) is something that people rarely talk about, and often go through in secret. But there needs to be zero shame around it, or around giving yourself the time and space to grieve," he wrote at the time.

Photo credit: David Livingston / Contributor / Getty