Can you cremate a newly embalmed body?

Suppose you’re a fictional character and were going to bury a loved one, but changed your mind just after they were embalmed because before the funeral a family member pressures you to cremate them instead. (immediately, not a case of digging them up and cremating them a while after burial.) Is that possible? Or would the embalming fluid make for a dangerous fire? Would your typical funeral home be willing to do it even if it’s not dangerous?

FTR, I’m trying to figure out why the body won’t be cremated, so it’ll be logistics if it’s not advisable to do it, or an adversion to cremation on the part of the parents if it is possible to cremate after embalming.

Bodies are routinely embalmed and cremated, especially if there is to be an open-casket service or viewing period before cremation. In fact, some funeral homes have to be vigorously talked out of embalming.

Okay. One of the parents can be horrified by the idea of cremation, then. Thanks

Embalming fluid is not flammable in any case, as it is mostly water (PDF):

Yeah, that has actually happened, at least in my father’s case. After a wake and a funeral, he was cremated. I understand, in other countries, to save space, there’s a burial, then a cremation years later. But in the US, for example, if you want a cremation from the get go, you can have one. Many Asian countries also have the tradition of cremation promptly after death, and a memorial ceremony using the cremains later.

My mother passed away last month, and in a combination of honoring what we think my mother would have wanted, and what my sister wanted to get some closure, she was embalmed (at least I think she was), we had an open-casket funeral, and she was cremated shortly thereafter without being bured.

So it certainly is possible.

As for writing this scenario into your book, many deceased people have a safe-deposit box, but it’s not always known.

In my mother’s case, we knew she had one, we immediately opened it, and we found her will, as well as a letter (also signed by her attorney) indicating what she would want if she were to become incapacitated (like Terry Schiavo). We unfortunately didn’t find any funeral wishes, however.

Perhaps your story could include a family member finding out about the safe deposit box only several days after the character’s death, and upon opening it, find a letter by the deceased that she would prefer to be cremated, and/or was terrified of being buried.

Also, some people pre-pay for their entire funeral with a local funeral home, but not everyone knows about this. You might write into your story that it’s been discovered that the deceased had a prepaid funeral, which was only discovered a little too late, and that it specifically included cremation.

Another option, if your character was religous, would be perhaps find a religion that’s against burial, and have a pastor or other churchgoer come forward to object to the burial.

My son had expressed his wish to be cremated. He was horrified by the idea of being embalmed, so am I.
At the funeral home, while they had no problem with cremating his body, I had to cry before they would shut up about embalming him. They also pushed hard for us to buy a very expensive box to burn along with him.

In my opinion, the push for embalming was for the same reason as the box, money.

Religion could have possiblities (though set in NH we don’t have many non-protestant, non-catholic religions with much of a following…even the Jewish population is only 1%), but given that the deceased in question is a murdered child, he wouldn’t have a will.