It´s scary, but I had exactly the same experience - with a human family.
Which story I can tell here as it is for me a foreigner forum:
That year I was teacher for 13-16 years kids in a small town way beyond bigger cities. The pupil Im talking about was a last year; "senior", in this school. I had him in several subjects=classes. (not english!
He was coming from a family of not the very best reputation as you say. The kid wasnt mean in any way, but his school achievements and his grades were weak.
An awful accident happened during the schoolyear. His older brother, driving drunkenly in a car, driving at night in high speed along the towns main street, crashed into a housewall - and died instantly.
A shock for the family, the school, the town.
And there come the turning point for the boy. Shortly afterwards I did noticed his work improved, him beginning to trying. And soon enough, also his achievements improved. Also the boy himself seemed more satisfied, more harmonic.
When the school year was at end, I was happy he also honestly earned himself better grades in all my subjects/classes.
Surely not top grades, his starting point being too low. But stabile and well earned middle grades.
Im sure he does well in his life as grown up.