With only a short time before the season opener for the hit show “Dancing with the Stars (DWTS)” on Monday, March 18, the father of judge Carrie Ann Inaba passed away.

Inaba informed fans of her loss through a post on People magazine’s blog site on March 18. She made the emotional announcement that her beloved father had passed away the prior Thursday. Inaba expressed to her fans how uncertain she felt about returning to the show given the swirl of emotions surrounding her regarding the loss of the father.

In the end, she decided to appear in the season opener of the film and believes her father was attending the show in spirit to support her. During the first episode, Inaba gave mostly positive comments to contestants. She wore a Theia gown which she later said gave her a feeling of comfort and security.

Inaba said she chose not to take a leave of absence from the show because her father would have preferred she continue working; Inaba believes she is doing her father an honor by working on the show despite his death. Her blog post ends with a message of gratitude to her father whom she believed was watching the show from heaven and cheering her on. Inaba has been appearing on DWTS since the show began in 2005.