Sean McEnroe and his wife Niamh are opening up about finding strength in each other after she suffered a miscarriage.
Earlier this week, Sean — the artist son of actress Tatum O'Neal and tennis icon John McEnroe — revealed on Instagram that he wed Niamh in September. The 32-year-old tells PEOPLE they held off on sharing their marriage news as they dealt with a personal tragedy the same month as their nuptials, Niamh's miscarriage at the end of the first trimester.
"It was a huge shock," he says. "It played such a huge role in how we got closer and how our bond became stronger. That was to me one of the reasons why I felt like I had to share it. It's such a pivotal part of our story now."
"For me," adds Niamh (pronounced "Neeve"), "it was a big lesson in acceptance. … If this is meant to happen, it's going to happen. Do I feel prepared? No, but will I accept it and understand that if it happens I am ready for it. Then we obviously had to get through the emotional depth that comes with that too, because obviously it does hurt. We had just gotten married."
Sean says the couple were envisioning outfits they would dress their baby on the way in, as well as potential names they discussed. He says they "both felt annihilated" in the immediate aftermath of the pregnancy loss, but their love for one another provided a strong foundation for healing.
"Once you're really committed and you start preparing for the future, you get really excited," he says. "You're building this energy, and then all of a sudden, once that happened, it really came crashing down."
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"We're committed to acceptance and surrender to wherever our path is meant to take us," continues Sean. "We never want to resist something, especially that big. So it was important to us to immediately accept that this happened for a reason that we didn't need to understand, but that we needed to trust. That kind of foundation of belief that we had in that moment made the healing process so much faster, and it really did bring us closer."
"We had to just go through this emotional rollercoaster," he recalls, "but we had that belief in our minds the whole time. We were able to not let the emotion spiral into a more nightmarish scenario where we really could have gone into a dark period and questioned everything."
Niamh says she's made "peace" with the miscarriage, ultimately finding a newfound perspective.
"I realized that all of the expectations, all the energy I put toward the baby, it doesn't prevent anything in the future," says the model. "All of that love is still there, it doesn't go anywhere. I know that it's hard, but I have all this love to give, and that's really a beautiful thing to look and see."
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"It really taught us about how important perspective is," says Sean, as Niamh adds, "And how important it is, when things are difficult, to stand by each other. Even when it's hard, that's when it's most important."
Explaining their decision to share their heartbreaking experience, Sean says they hope to lessen the stigma surrounding the subject of pregnancy loss.
"We have seen how people have hidden it or don't talk about it because it's so painful," he says. "We hope by talking about it we can help other people. It's very painful, but it's also part of life."
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