There's an old joke that is the essence of this trope. A farmer who's been away from home for a week drives back into town, and stops for some cigarettes before he reaches his house. The sheriff pulls up and tells him some bad news...
Sheriff: John, I have some bad news for you. Your dog is dead.
Farmer: Aw damn, old Sport? What happened to him?
Sheriff: He died from eatin' too much horse flesh.
Farmer: Horse flesh?...wait a minute, you don't mean MY horses?!
Sheriff: Yup, they perished when your barn burnt down.
Farmer: My barn?!
Sheriff: Oh, it was the spark from the house fire that done it.
Farmer: My HOUSE burned?!
Sheriff: To the ground, thanks to those damn candles at your mother-in-law's funeral.
Farmer: Mother Sloan is dead?
Sheriff: And buried! 'Twas the shock of her only daughter runnin' off with that hired man what did her in.
Farmer: WHAT?! My wife has left me? You're telling me that on top of all that I have to raise three children without their mother?!
Sheriff: What? Oh, no, no... your kids all died in the barn fire!