“I’m trying to process the feelings right now,” the Wilson Phillips singer, 43, told PEOPLE backstage just after she was sent packing on Tuesday night. “It’s a lot to take in.”
Phillips, who said she was “upset” about the early dismissal, wiped her eyes with a tissue and gave her partner Tony Dovolani a long embrace before beginning interviews.
“I know that everything happens for a reason,” she said. “It’s okay. I’ve got so many blessings in my life.”
Phillips – who plans to take classes at Dovolani’s dance studio and is “looking forward to doing a lot of really incredible things” for Los Angelitos Orphanage in Mexico – wasn’t the only one choked up about the elimination.
A sobbing Karina Smirnoff was consoled backstage by her partner J.R. Martinez and fellow dancer Lacey Schwimmer.
“It wasn’t her time to go,” Smirnoff told PEOPLE. “She had so much left to show everyone. I’m really sad about this.”
An equally shocked Martinez says he was especially touched by an email he received from Phillips out of nowhere.
“She told me I was an unbelievable person and that she’s so honored to know me,” the war veteran said. “It amazed me. … It’s sad to see her go because she’s a beautiful person and a beautiful dancer.”
The elimination also brought tears to the eyes of Phillips’s biggest supporter, hubby Billy Baldwin. The actor, who cheered his wife on each week in the live audience, kissed Dovolani on the cheek backstage and thanked him for being such a great partner.